After the Los Angeles Rams won the Super Bowl in February and a crazy NFL Free Agency where we’ve seen Tom Brady unretire, Khalil Mack got traded to the Los Angeles Chargers, and much more, it’s now time for teams to gear up and draft the best young players in the college ranks. In this article I will be going through my first round NFL mock draft in what is considered a weak quarterback class, but is strong in other positions. I will be using https://www.lineups.com/nfl-team-rankings to see what teams need the most throughout the article. Without further ado let's get started!
1. Jacksonville Jaguars- Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan- With the Jaguars franchise tagging left tackle Cam Robinson, and having their quarterback of the future already in Trevor Lawrence, they can look to add Hutchinson who is a relentless pass-rusher, and possesses great power as a pass rusher. He can help improve a defense that was ranked near the bottom in many defensive categories from sacks (30th), last in turnovers forced in the league, 28th in points allowed, and 29th in rush touchdowns allowed.
Adding the 2021 Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year recipient should help upgrade the Jaguars defense in many of the aforementioned categories.
2. Detroit Lions- Kyle Hamilton, Safety, Notre Dame- Having Jared Goff at quarterback, and considering this is a weak class for that position, the Lions should look to improve their defense as they ranked 30th in points allowed, 30th in sacks, 31st in red zone touchdown percentage, and 27th in touchdowns allowed. Hamilton is a defensive game-changer who can do it all, and add him to the back end of the Lions defense, he’ll surely make an impact and ensure the back field is locked up in deep-half coverage.
He is a versatile defender who can guard tight ends, receivers, and even defend the rush if asked to. His versatility at 6-foot-4 220 pounds will surely make the general managers willing to take the 2021 census All-American.
3. Houston Texans- Ikem Ekwonu, OT, N.C. State- With Deshaun Watson potentially on his was out of Houston, and a dearth of quarterback talent, the Texans can plug a 6-foot-4 310 pound freak of nature in Ekwonu who can immediately help improve the Texans offensive line and give Davis Mills more room to operate, helping to anchor their offensive line.
Ekwonu is quick laterally, and at his best on wide zone runs where his timing, mobility, and feel are impeccable. He tends to struggle in pass protection when he has to redirect his weight with oncoming defenders and the mobility of quarterbacks nowadays, but due to his length and IQ, expect the unanimous All-American to make an instant impact in Houston.
4. New York Jets- Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon- The New York Jets need a lot of things, but their first priority should be on improving their defense, which was ranked dead last in the NFL last season in almost every defensive category. Drafting Thibodeaux, who stands at 6’4 and 254 pounds with an elite first step, great agility, and has great coverage versatility.
He will need to improve his hand technique, often latches on rather than striking his appointment, and can struggle against none-zone runs from the opposition. Overall, the two-time first team All-Pac 12 selection in back-to-back years should make for a dangerous disruptor on defense for whatever team drafts him, and as he improves his technique and knowledge of the game, he should become one of the best defenders in the league in a few years.
5. New York Giants- Evan Neal, OT, Alabama- The Giants need a lot of things, but having two top ten picks with one here and at number seven from the Chicago Bears sure doesn’t hurt. With the Giants current best lineman in Matt Pearl coming off an ACL injury and being inconsistent last season, they can look to upgrade at the position to protect Daniel Jones and newly signed quarterback Tyrod Taylor, and Evan Neal seems like the perfect pick here.
Neal is huge for a lineman, listed at 6-foot-7, 337 pounds with massive shoulders and a shredded muscular frame that helps him use his power to move defenders off the line of scrimmage and wear them down. He made the transition from right tackle to left tackle this past season at Alabama which paid dividends and shows his ability to play either tackle position.
He tends to lean too much sometimes when engaging blocks. He can get caught lunging, which causes him to lose his balance, and may not have the speed to prevent oncoming defenders consistently. But Neal is a tremendous offensive tackle in a loaded draft for offensive lineman and defensive players, and he goes here to the Giants that were one of the worst offensive teams last season in large part due to their offensive line.
6. Carolina Panthers- Kenny Pickett, QB, Notre Dame- With Cam Newton a free agent and Sam Darnold not the answer long-term for the franchise, the Panthers could look to select the first quarterback here in Pickett at number six overall. He is confident, tough, and has a good arm. Pickett had a Zach Wilson type rise last college football season and he has sniper-like accuracy, refined throwing technique, and has shown some ability to run the football as well, which is important for today’s quarterbacks.
Pickett has small hands, measured at 8 ½ inches, which could be a red flag for the Panthers, not even also factoring in that he is already 23 years of age and will turn 24 during his rookie season, which definitely puts a ceiling on his potential. But, the Panthers desperately need a quarterback with Newton gone and Darnold not being fully reliable, and they could look to select the man who threw 42 touchdowns last season.
7. New York Giants (Via Chicago)- Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansa- With the Giants boosting their offensive line by selecting the man-child that is Evan Neal, they need to look to try to improve offensively, as they were one of the worst offenses last season in many categories due to inconsistent quarterback play, but also because of a lack of offensive playmakers. Selecting the 6’2, 225 pound Burks out of Arkansa would do wonders for the Giants in the playmaker department as Burks combines elite athleticism, physicality, and size for the receiver position.
In three seasons with the Razorbacks, Burks caught 146 passes for 2,399 yards for 18 touchdowns, putting an emphatic stamp to his explosive game in 2021 with a 1,104-yard, 11-touchdown campaign, adding 112 yards and a score on the ground. He stresses defenses with his agility and verticality, while also being a capable blocker on run plays, displaying his versatility.
He tends to have lapses from time-to-time, and can look to improve his concentration in the heat of the moment, while also elevating his ability as a route runner, which will be key if he wants to become the star receiver he has all the tools to be.
8. Atlanta Falcons- Derek Stingley Jr., DB, LSU- The Falcons look to be in a clear rebuild, as they just traded away the greatest quarterback in their franchise’s history, Matt Ryan during free agency. With a lack of elite quarterbacks in this class, the Falcons can look to go defense here, which is what they desperately need anyways. They ranked near the bottom in almost every defensive category from points allowed (29th), pass touchdowns (26th), touchdowns (31st), and first downs allowed (28th), just to name a few.
Stingley has a pro-ready frame for the defensive back position at six feet tall and 190 pounds of muscle. He was the top ranked cornerback back in high school and has lived up to those expectations in his time as a LSU Tiger. In his freshman year, Stingley picked off six passes and 15 passes deflected to help the Tigers capture the national championship. Injuries and COVID hindered his next two seasons as a Tiger, but Stingley has already proven what he is capable of at the highest level.
He has a unique blend of athleticism and reactive quickness to stay with the opposition’s top wide receiver. Stingley is able to change direction in a blink of an eye, which is what you want in an elite defensive back prospect, he also is a very patient defender who trusts his footwork and speed to stay with his opponent with little wasted movement.
Questions Stingley will have to answer is if he can regain the production he showed in that promising freshman season of his, as he was never quite able to regain that form again. But, Stingley would make a great fit for the Falcons and will be a ballhawk for an organization that desperately needs one.
9. Denver Broncos via Seattle- Malik Willis, QB, Liberty- After trading away their longtime franchise quarterback in Russell Wilson, and with Geno Smith on the free agency market, the Seahawks could use a potential star at the quarterback position if all things go right in his development. Drew Lock is someone who is solid, but doesn’t project as a guy who can become a franchise quarterback, that is where selecting the polarizing Willis becomes so enticing here for the Seahawks.
Willis first started his career at Auburn, but would eventually transfer to Liberty to get more playing time, and boy did he explode onto the scene by throwing for 20 touchdowns on only six picks, while also rushing for 944 yards for 14 rushing touchdowns. In his second season with the Liberty Flames, Willis became a little more erratic in throwing the ball by throwing for 12 interceptions ,along with his 27 touchdowns.
Willis' lack of height will hinder him (6’0), but due to his muscular frame, rocket arm, and the mobility that is needed for the modern day quarterback. He can make the tight passes, whip it downfield, and is creative out of the pocket. He reminds of Wilson in the way he can run the ball, and he also doesn’t shy away from contact. He won’t have to come in right away and start to save the Seahawks with Lock there for the next four years, as the Seahawks can slowly groom Willis into potentially becoming their leader of the future in the post-Wilson era.
10. New York Jets via Seattle- Ahmad Gardner, DB, Cincinnati- The Jets need defense more than anything, as they ranked dead last in numerous defensive rankings from rushing touchdowns allowed, touchdowns, points given up, red zone touchdowns, and first downs. If they weren’t last, they were dead close to it in any other defensive metric. This is where plugging in a guy like Gardner from Cincinnati who would be able to significantly help the Jets defense from being in the gutter in the NFL.
Gardner is an extremely aggressive corner at 6-foot-3 and a fluid 190 pounds. The last three seasons as a Bearcat he showed his ability as a ball-hawk by accumulating three interceptions each season, 5.5 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks for his career, and 18 passes batted. His elite on ball production earned him first team an AP All-American selection, while also winning the AAC Defensive Player of the Year last season.
Gardner is very patient in defending his opponent, and does a great job of taking advantage of his length by disrupting routes and timing of receivers. He has great hip flexibility, which is extremely important for the defensive back position. He has great awareness of where the ball and his man is at all times, who is also a dangerous blitzer.
He has a very thin frame that could use more muscle, and occasionally gets knocked around against the run. But overall, Gardner’s elite instincts as a defender, length, and elite top end speed makes him a must for the Jets defense.
11. Washington Commanders- Trent McDuffie, DB, Washington- The Commanders were the worst defense last season when it came from stopping the opposition from scoring touchdowns by the pass. Adding in a player like McDuffie who is a lockdown, hard-nosed, stingy defender despite his small size at 5’11 will do wonders to help them improve on that front. He is a swift footed corner with excellent athleticism and a rugged frame who plays bigger than his size indicates.
McDuffie racked up 35 tackles that also included four for a loss of yards in 2021. He was named a first team All-Pac 12 selection, and in his three years as a Washington Huskie, he totaled 94 tackles, two picks, eight passes defended, and three forced fumbles. He has a tracker in his mind, always seeming to know where the ball will precisely be at a particular time before snatching it out of receivers grasp.
He is lightning quick out of the blitz, being able to easily slip through offensive linemen. His lack of elite length combined with his lack of ideal size will make some question his selection this high, but, due to his elite instincts, ball skills, internal tracker, and versatility in schemes, he’ll be a very valuable pick here for the Commanders.
12.Minnesota Vikings- Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia- One of the Vikings biggest needs is an elite edge rusher who can put pressure on the opposing team's offensive linemen and quarterback, and that’s where Walker fits right in and can make an immediate impact. Walker has a solid, thick, muscular frame combined with explosiveness, and long arms that makes him one hell of a prospect.
He made a huge impact in his three years as a Bulldog, one one of the most feared defensive lines in college football history. This past season he had the best year of his career by accumulating 37 tackles, 7.5 sacks for loss, six sacks, and two passes defensed. Walker has great lateral quickness post snap which helps him slip and bulldoze his way through offensive linemen. Walker has great flexibility in that massive 6-foot-5, 272 pound frame of his.
He may be a tweener at the next level, as he never has been a highly productive sacker, however, due to his ferocity, instincts, and ability to use his frame, and agility to slash into the pocket whenever he wants, will give the Vikings the edge rusher they need.
13.Houston Texans via Cleveland, Drake London, WR, USC- The Houston Texans can use defense here, after I selected Ekonwu earlier to improve their offensive line. But, they desperately need an offensive playmaker Davis Mills can rely on to be effective on important drives in big moments of games, and that is where Drake London comes in here. He has a pro-ready frame and top-tier size for a receiver at 6-foot-4 with great body control, and concentration at all three levels from deep balls, to close routes.
London was a former hoops star as well, averaging 29 points and 12 rebounds a game back in high school, even playing for the USC basketball team, talk about a versatile, elite athlete. He knows how to get separation from corners and safeties by subtle push-offs and tugs, and knows when to precisely bring his hands up to make it hard for the defender to anticipate when he’s ready to catch the pass.
He can line up on the outside or in the slot, and is great at swiping corner’s hands to get free. London suffered a ankle fracture that ended his 2021 season prematurely, and teams will have to make sure there are no red medical flags before investing their draft pick in him. However, London’s combination of size, athleticism, route-running skills, and strong hands should help him become a top receiver option if all things go well in his development.
14.Baltimore Ravens, George Karlaftis, Edge, Purdue- The Ravens are in need of a pass rusher as they ranked dead last in passing yards allowed, and 25th in yards allowed. Drafting a powerful, tenacious edge rusher in Karlaftis out of Purdue, who stands at 6-foot-4, 266 pounds who will be able to line up with just about anyone in, while also wreaking havoc with his bulldozer style of play.
He is an explosive athlete who can play all across the line, showing the ability of an elite first step combined with heavy hands to combat block attempts by the offensive line to quickly get to the quarterback. Karlaftis utilizes a very nifty arm-over swim move, is very quick laterally, but can tend to be somewhat stiff at the top of his rush which hinders him sometimes when attacking.
Karlaftis tends to be overzealous when rushing the pocket sometimes, which leads to him losing control of his body at times. Overall, he has the power, sheer athletic ability, versatility, and size to be a force from day one in this league. If he can improve his flexibility in certain spots, this spot might be too low for the Boilermaker stud.
15.Philadelphia Eagles via Miami, Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State- The Eagles could use an edge rusher or safety here, but they can address that with their 18th pick from the New Orleans Saints later in the draft. The Eagles signed edge rusher Hasson Reddick to a three-year deal, and linebacker Kyzir White to a one-year deal, with both having great seasons last year, so that takes some pressure off in having to select a defensive back at this spot.
The Eagles desperately struggled offensively last season, ranking 32nd (last) in pass attempts, 31st in pass completions, and 25th in pass touchdowns. Eagles franchise quarterback, Jalen Hurts had no reliable receiver to throw to, as you had guys dropping wide open passes left and right, making it hard to put points on the floor and get the ball downfield.
That’s where an electric, quick twitched receiver with great body control in Garret Wilson, who’s comparison is “Odell Beckham Jr on Red Bull” would instantly help out Hurts in the Eagles passing attack alongside their top 10 pick in last year’s Devonta Smith, which would make for a dangerous dynamic duo receiver combo.
Wilson has a tendency to make big plays, and with his ability to stay balanced whether it’s reaching for a pass, jumping, spins, while being able to land smoothly in one motion while bursting downfield is unheard of in most receivers. He puts opponents in spin cycles, selling great body fakes with his heads and shoulders before quickly bursting the other direction to get his defender off balance and disoriented.
He has long-arms, elite jumping ability, and creativity to be a top two passing target in the Eagles offense. Wilson will need to continue to get stronger, as he weighs just 183 pounds, which hurts him as a blocker, but also lacks elite size for a receiver at just six feet tall. However, Wilson is a receiver with unique body control and big play ability that will make him an exciting target for Hurts.
16.New Orleans Saints via Indianapolis, Charlie Cross, OT, Mississippi State- This is surprising to see Cross drop to the Saints lap at 16, but boy is this a blessing for them, as they need an offensive tackle to protect quarterback Jameis Winston, who’s coming off ACL surgery, and Cross can be just the perfect guy for the job. He is a physical specimen at 6-foot-5, 307 pounds to pair with long arms and light feet that helped Cross pass-block 1,238 snaps, an FBS best through the past two seasons.
Cross has proven he is savvy and calm while on the edge, using his trong hands to control opposing rushers, while also being able to grip and reset his hands without losing his balance or positioning. He rarely gets pushed around, with opponents having a hard time getting around him due to his refined technique and smooth footwork. Cross bulldozes defenders out the way with his downblocking to help keep his feet moving to create movement at the point of attack.
He can sometimes lunge or fall back during his blocks, and can also have his hands out too wide outside his pad width, which can lead to holding calls at the NFL level. But, Cross has all the traits of a lethal blindside pass blocker with his technique, size, footwork, and understanding of positioning.
17.Los Angeles Chargers, Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia- The Chargers were one of the worst defensive teams last season at defending the run, ranking 30th in rushing yards allowed, and 29th in rushing touchdowns allowed. Plugging in Jordan Davis of the Georgia Bulldogs in that defensive frontline will immensely make a difference in one of the Chargers Achilles heels.
Davis is a mountain of a man, standing at 6’6, and weighing 341 pounds. His massive frame and the power of a mack truck helped the Bulldogs form one of the most fearsome defenses this past season en route to a National Championship. He accumulated 32 tackles, including 5.5 tackles for loss that helped him win the Chuck Bednarik Award for best defensive player, and Outland Trophy for best interior defensive lineman.
Davis knows how to throw his weight around like a wrecking ball, making his presence known, while also utilizing a quick first step to help him slither through gaps. He can lineup at multiple stops on the defensive line, taking up double teams to free up his teammates.He covers so much ground as a run defender and makes the offensive line’s night a miserable hell, which is exactly what the Chargers defense needs to take it to the next level.
18.Philadelphia Eagles via New Orleans, David Ojabo, Edge, Michigan- The Eagles need an edge rusher, and Obajo can give them an elite one with his explosiveness, quick first step, and long arms at 6’4, 250 pounds. His quick feet should come as no surprise, as he grew up playing soccer, being born in Nigeria, and moving to Scotland at a young age.
Obajo is a constant threat against slow-footed tackles, as he showed in his one year as a starter for the Wolverines, racking up 11 sacks, 12 tackles for loss in 13 games last season, while also deflecting three passes, and forcing five fumbles. He uses a basketball eurostep to freeze offensive tackles, and also utilizes spin moves in his arsenal.
Obajo is very flexible, being able to bend easily, and has a wide tackle radius of being able to hawk down ball carriers and scrambling quarterbacks. He is still very raw, as he has only been a legit starter for one season, but with his size, power, and agility, he is too enticing for the Eagles to pass up here in the mid-first round.
19.New Orleans (from Philadelphia) Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State- Adding the slender, but speedy playmaker in Ohio State’s Chris Olave to a Saints team that was last in passing yards and pass completions last season, due to a lack of elite wide receivers outside Michael Thomas, who missed all but seven games last season due to an ankle injury.
Olave will help take pressure off Thomas, who has been nagged by injuries, and will be a viable second option in the passing game behind Thomas. He is a polished pass catcher with a refined technique at running routes, racking up 175 catches for 2,702 yards and 35 touchdowns in his career. He put up his most productive campaign in 2021, reeling in 65 catches for 936 yards and 13 touchdowns.
His hyper-quick feet, while running routes like a veteran makes it easy for him to explode over defenders and gain a cushion for his opposition for catches, while also integrating head and shoulder fakes as well. Despite Olave’s lack of height at six-feet tall, his go-go-gadget longs makes up for it. He will need to get stronger, as he struggles to block, and will need the extra muscle to be able to take the hits he’s going to receive at the next level.
20.Pittsburgh Steelers, Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa- One of the Steelers needs is an offensive linemen, and Linderbaum from the Iowa Hawkeyes fits that billing. Standing at 6-foot-2, and weighing 296 pounds, Linderbaum is a dynamic, athletic center with smooth footwork, a strong squat frame, and a muscular upper body. He would earn first-team All-American honors, and won the Rimington Trophy for the nation's top center.
Linderbaum is a former wrestler, and it shows in the tape , consistently playing with much better leverage than opponents, using his torque and strong hands to control oncoming rushers. He is like a massive weight on the offensive line, being basically immovable in pass protection, and is a master at blocking in the zone.
He is a bit undersized and lacks length, which could lead him to struggle against longer, heavier defensive tackles in the league. Overall, he has a complete skill-set to be an instant starter at the center position, and should be an instant starter.
21.New England Patriots, Dayton Hill, S, Michigan- The Patriots could use an impactful defender in the backfield with speed, and Hill is a slender, long arm safety with elite athleticism, and great versatility, especially after Stephen Gilmore's departure. He is a former five-star prospect out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is the younger brother of Ravens running back Justice Hill. As a three-year starter for the Wolverines Hall compiled 96 tackles, four interceptions, and 15 passes defensed in his career.
Hall saved his best this past season, racking up 69 tackles, two interceptions, and eight passes defensed in 14 games this season. He is an uber-athletic safety with swift feet and twitchy change of direction. Hall is a very ranger defender who can size up and run step for step with slot receivers. He is very instinctual, and brings the versatility to play all over the secondary, with the top-end speed to play single-high looks.
He can fly downhill,makes strong hits, and is tenacious after the snap, playing with an edge at all times. He will need to get stronger, as he sometimes gets overpowered by bigger pass catchers, but he can play multiple spots in the secondary, and would be a great addition for any franchise who selects him.
22.Green Bay Packers via Las Vegas, Jermaine Johnson II, Edge, Florida State- Rowdy, physical, and relentless is how you would describe Florida State edge rusher, Jermaine Johnson II. He has an incredible body with a chiseled 6’5, 254 pound frame to match with long arms. He started at Independence Community College in Kansas due to being ruled ineligible to play Division I football.
But once he was eligible, Johnson II showed exactly why he’s an incredible prospect , posting 12.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss to help him rank as the top prospect in JUCO. He would then go to Georgia and then finally become a Florida State Seminole where he racked up 11.5 sacks, 17.5 TFL (tackles for loss) in 12 games, including two forced fumbles and pass deflections.
Johnson is great at locking his arms out to keep opponents away from him on their heels. He implements a good push-pull move to catch opponents off-guard, while also bringing an effective countermove on the inside to overzealous tackles.
He’s a brick wall against the run who looks to bully his opponents. Johnson is not very flexible when he tries rushing toward pressuring the opposition's quarterback, and needs to become a more disciplined defender, sometimes finding himself out of position, which hurts him more because he lacks an elite first step to make up for it. He’ll be 23 as a rookie, so his upside isn’t great, but he should be a guy who can be a contributor to a veteran team.
23.Arizona Cardinals, Devonte Wyatt, DL, Georgia- The Cardinals could use help in the backfield defensively, but with no real game changers at those positions at this point in the draft, they can use more depth on their interior front defensively, especially with J.J. Watt being injury prone and getting older. The Cardinals were in the middle of the pack in the league last season in sacks (14th), and implementing Wyatt to your depth chart in case Watt continues to get injured will do wonders for them.
He has a stout, wide frame at 6’3, 304 pounds, and a quick first-step. In his time as a Bulldog, Wyatt was an integral cog of their defense, netting 12 tackles for loss, and five sacks in his career. He would continue to improve as his career progressed, tallying 27 quarterback pressures to go with 7.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles.
Wyatt has elite explosiveness out of his stance, showing great lateral speed, quickness, and being a mack truck on the line of scrimmage. He has incredibly strong hands while playing with a wide, strong, and balanced base. Is great at getting opponents off balance and lunging, making it easier for him to stop the run or put pressure on the quarterback.
A lack of length could hurt Wyatt at the next level, as he’s still developing as a pass rusher. He also will be a 24 year old rookie, so is there that much more room for growth? And if so, how long will it last? Overall, Wyatt’s mix of power, and mobility on the interior could make him an immediate impact interior pass rusher.
24.Dallas Cowboys, Zion Johnson, G, Boston College- You can never get enough offensive linemen, and Johnson out of Boston College is one of the best in this class. He has a thick, wide frame to pair with long arms and big hands. He brings versatility, being able to play the tackle positions or center. Johnson plays with natural power, playing with a wide, balanced base that gives him leverage against his opponents.
He shocks defenders in the run game, and is able to fork lift defenders off the ball. Johnson will need to limit ducking his head into contact, which causes him to lose his balance and sight of defenders. He also sometimes leaves his chest open, which causes him to be vulnerable to rip and pull moves.
Overall, Johnson could be a great plug-and-play guard for the Cowboys who could use more protection for Dak Prescott, and is a versatile offensive linemen.
25.Buffalo Bills, Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama- Coming off a torn ACL in the national championship game against Georgia might have some scouts worried about how he comes back. But, Williams is one of the most electrifying,instinctual playmakers in this draft class period. He has a slender frame at 6’2, 179 pounds, but possesses blazing speed, great hands, and makes sharp route runs.
He transferred to Alabama this past season after being at Ohio State and went ballistic this past season, hauling in 79 passes for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns in 15 games, finishing in the top-10 in the country in receiving yards per game (104.8), tied for third in the country. Williams can line up outside or in the slot, while also being able to catch passes in traffic, displaying an elite level of concentration and hand strength.
He will help take pressure off All-Pro receiver Stefon Diggs, and will give Josh Allen another mesmerizing receiver to throw to in the backfield. Williams will need to get stronger, as he will struggle with bigger, athletic cornerbacks in the league that guard him. Teams that look at him will also need to check his medicals and make sure his rehab on his knee is going smoothly and on schedule, as he might not even suit up for most of his rookie season.
Overall, Williams has the talent and type of game-changing speed that can change the whole dynamic of a teams offense due to his route-running, and ability to make an impact after the catch.
26.Tennessee Titans, Kenyon Green, Guard, Texas A&M- The Titans were 26th in sacks allowed, as they could use some reinforcements on their offensive line. Green, who is a big, burly offensive linemen that has a powerful base and long arms. Green would go on to have a stellar career for the Aggies, being named a second team AP All-American in 2020, only to follow with a first team selection this season.
In his 35 starts as a college player, Green has shown versatility, being able to play pretty much any position on the frontline, from the tackle to guard positions. He’s a brick wall against the blitz, being able to absorb contact well, and dig his heels against oncoming rushers.
Green hits with excellent leverage and shows solid footwork to keep balance, and maintain his blocking position. He can tend to struggle against speedy rushers on the edge, and tends to bend and lunge when trying to block. Despite his versatility, Green is probably too slow to block on the outside, and would be better served as an interior blocker. His technique/placement will need to improve, especially against smarter, more skilled competition than he faced in college.
27.Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State- The Buccaneers were 31st in rushing attempts, and 265h in rushing yards last season. Plugging in Hall with his pro-ready frame, swift footwork, amazing quickness, and explosiveness, you got yourself an impactful runner. In his three years as a starter for the Hawkeyes, Hall tallied 3,941 rushing yards and an incredible 50 touchdowns on the ground in his college career, adding another 734 yards and six touchdown receptions.
He utilizes head fakes and jukes to freeze and fake defenders out. Hall has a slashing style to his running game, but is still patient for his offensive linemen to block oncoming defenders before using his electric, turbo speed to emerge from the hole and get downhill. Hall is slippery like peanut butter and jelly, being able to get through tight spaces, and make something out of nothing when it seems like there is no gap.
Hall knows how to deflect contact and spin away from defenders, making it hard for them to square him up. What makes him even more valuable is his ability to be a passing target as well, displaying rock solid hands and open-field instincts to make big yard gains for his team. He’ll need to improve as a route runner and dump off option to reach his full potential, but due to Hall’s speed, vision, and ruggedness, he’ll be an instant plug into any offense.
28.Green Bay Packers, George Pickens, WR, Georgia- The Packers could use a receiver with Davante Adams departure via trade this past offseason. Pickens would be a great addition as a passing target for the reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers due to his elite size at 6-foot-3, long arms, and ability to make big plays. From the moment Pickens stepped foot onto Georgia’s field he made his presence felt, reeling in 49 catches for 727 yards and eight touchdowns as a true freshman in 2019.
He would continue his ascent his sophomore season by catching 36 passes for 513 yards and six touchdowns as a sophomore. Pickens unfortunately tore his ACL last March, limiting him to just four games. He still made a comeback to be impactful in the national championship game in the win over Alabama where he showed flashes of his ability, highlighted by a 52-yard diving catch.
Pickens plays with a smooth, effortless style while possessing tremendous body control. He uses his speed and quickness to gain separation in his routes, and can contort his body in mid-air to make tough catches, while also being able to sink his hips to make quick cuts. He has great awareness when catching, always seeming to know where out of bounce is and where he is.
He’ll need to learn how to play better through contact at the catch point and can be a little aloof when the ball is in the air at times. Pickens was overpowered by bigger corners, and his medicals on how his knee is progressing will be huge on where he falls in the draft. He also has some maturing to do, as he was suspended twice as a freshman, the first for violating team rules, and the other for an in-game tussle with an opponent.
Overall, Pickens has everything you want in a potential elite receiver, it’s all a matter of maturing and refining his game that will determine if he ever reaches what he’s capable of.
29.Kansas City Chiefs from 49ers, Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State- There’s no replacing someone as talented, or as fast as Tyreek Hill was for the Chiefs, but Watson out of North Dakota State will give the Chiefs a tall, explosive receiver who has great length and good hands. Watson used his raw abilities to become a 2021 All-American after receiving 43 passes for 800 yards and seven touchdowns last season, with another 114 yards and touchdown added on from rushing.
Over his four seasons for the Bison, Watson caught 105 passes for 2,139 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also displayed his versatility by also being a productive kick returner by averaging 25.4 yards per kick on 27 return attempts, with two resulting in touchdowns. Watson is a do-it-all rare breed of a receiver who brings twitchiness, and has a high IQ to let his blockers set up for him so he can glide through traffic. Ahe can be deployed in multiple ways, whether it’s sweeps, screens, and snaps from the backfield as the running back.
He has a gritty edge to him in his demeanor, despite being skinny for his frame at 6’4, 208 pounds, which he’ll need to add muscle to. Watson’s not great at playing through contact at catch point, and didn’t have great volume stats despite playing lower competition in a run-heavy offense. He’s also 23 which will hurt his upside.
Overall, Watson could be a really good pick up for the Chiefs who are in a second phase of the Mahomes era, and Watson’s combination of athleticism, and ascending playmaking ability will help them tremendously.
30.Kansas City Chiefs, Kaiir Elam, DB, Florida- With the Chiefs star safety Tyrann Mathieu being a free agent, and that situation is complicated https://fox4kc.com/sports/chiefs/veach-explains-why-chiefs-did-not-sign-tyrann-mathieu-and-tyreek-hill/, they can use a well-built, tall, defensive back who plays a ferocious brand of football that their defensive identity can use. He is the son of former NFL safety Abram Elam and nephew of former Ravens first-round pick, Matt Elam.
In his three years as a Florida Gator, Elam picked off five passes, had 20 pass deflections, and 2.5 tackles for losses. He brings the experience and ability to play in press or off-coverage looks. When in press, he plays crouched to the ground, and likes to get his hands on opponents at the beginning of their routes, and utilizes his length to disrupt a receivers release.
Elam trusts his speed and his patience, not turning his hips too quick in coverage. He uses his speed to close ground on receivers that create separation early, while being elite at observing opponents eyes and hands when trailing to know when to precisely look at the ball. He can rake or dislodge passes, and is very comfortable in half-turning and backpedaling.
He is aggressive against the run, but will need to be more willing to get down into the ground and make tackles against rushers. Elam sometimes gives up separation early in routes when trailing, and could struggle against smaller, shiftier defenders. He tends to tug and grab on jerseys, which will be called a penalty at the NFL level, something he’ll have to clean up.
Elam is grabby in coverage, but still has great instincts to be a menace on the defensive end.
31.Cincinnati Bengals, Trevor Penning, T, Northern Iowa- The Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow got swallowed up during their Super Bowl run last season and could definitely use reinforcements on the offensive line. Adding Penning to the line, a guy who is sturdy, tall (listed at 6-foot-7), and a rugged frame that allows him to play with a physical style. He has the height of a basketball player and plays with a chip on his shoulder at all times.
Penning is aggressive and forceful in his punch, using grappling hooks for hands to lock onto the opponent, has tremendous hand placement; striking into the chest of pass rushers and showing the ability to use his hands. He has a wide base and balanced posture who positions himself well on the edge who reacts quickly to counter moves by oncoming rushers.
He never seems to be in a rush, and is so strong where he can literally throw defenders to the ground using superior torque and leverage. Penning is an effective blocker on the move who looks to hit defenders and move them out the way, which will be beneficial to Burrow’s decision making in the pocket and prevent injuries.
Penning looks like he still relies too much on his upper body strength, which can sometimes lead to him not moving his feet. Tends to lunge and lean too much, which makes him vulnerable to rip, push, and pull moves.
Overall, Penning has great size and length at the tackle position that isn’t very common. He’s very well-rounded by being an elite pass blocker, and having the mobility to block on the move.
32.Detroit Lions, Boye Mafe, Edge, Minnesota- To close out this epic first round mock draft, I have the Lions selecting Mafe out of Minnesota who has elite burst, is built like a boulder, having a thick , muscled-up frame to support with long arms. In his four years for the Gophers, Mafe tallied a total of 15.0 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss in his career. Last season he finished strong by posting seven sacks and 10 tackles for losses which would help him earn second-team All-Big Ten honors.
Mafe won the Player of the Game award at the Reese’s Senior Bowl. He has a swift first step , long strides, and has great hands to rake away offensive lineman hands. He strikes with whichever arm is his inside arm to get opposing tackles on their heels. Mafe has the ability to rip and dip, but also amazing versatility to play in a variety of different schemes, showing good fluidity and awareness when he has to drop back into zone coverage.
He occasionally overplays, which gives a gap to his opposition, has never been an elite sacker, needs more countermoves, and needs to develop his repertoire as a pass rusher.
This is viewed as a historically weak, bad draft, but there will definitely be some guys who will go on to have really good or even great careers. The NFL Draft is set to start on Thursday April 28th starting at 8 p.m. eastern time on the ESPN, ABC, and NFL networks.