This article is part of our NFL Draft series.
We're less than a week away from the NFL Draft and if there's one thing the people need, it's another mock. We don't need a long preamble here, so let's get right to it. If you're looking for more draft coverage at RotoWire, be sure to check out Mario Puig's latest two-round mock along with our Dynasty Watch series.
I have to give a big thanks to the folks at MockDraftable and PFF for being great resources for data that made putting this puzzle together possible. Without further adieu, here's how I see the first round shaking out with a few days to go before Jacksonville is officially on the clock.
1.) Jacksonville Jaguars
The Pick: Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
There are strong cases for Walker or Hutchinson here. Hutchinson is the more accomplished of the two and would make sense if the Jaguars are already losing the faith in K'Lavon Chaisson (likely). Walker, meanwhile, lacks the polish and track record but makes up for it with rare athleticism for a player of his size.
Tracking the betting markets for this pick has been an interesting exercise. Hutchinson has gone from a heavy favorite to a modest favorite (-170) while Walker has skyrocketed from a longshot before the combine to +140 at BetMGM. All signs point to the Jaguars going with a defensive player at 1.1, and I'll say that it ends up being Walker.
2.) Detroit Lions
The Pick: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Detroit is in an enviable spot in the sense that it won't have to be the team making the high-pressure decision between Hutchinson and Walker at 1.1. The Lions would be happy with either, and Hutchinson is unlikely to fall past this spot if he doesn't go first overall.
3.) Houston Texans
The Pick: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Neal and North Carolina State's Ikem Ekwonu are in play if Houston goes tackle at three. Ekwonu tested at the combine and his impressive measurables could work in his favor, but Neal has a more prototypical tackle build and his accolades as a 40-game starter
4.) New York Jets
The Pick: Ahmad Gardner, Cornerback, Cincinnati
No.4 is a bit rich for a corner but the Jets need help there and Gardner seems to be trending towards being the first corner off the board. Gardner is a rangy corner at 6-foot-3 with arms that rank in the 97th percentile at his position and he also more than held his own against the best receivers Cincinnati faced. Is he another Kevin King, a Richard Sherman, or somewhere in between?
5.) New York Giants
The Pick: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina State
It's not a flashy pick but it's completely within reason for the G-Men to keep building up its offensive line.
6.) Seattle Seahawks (via trade)
Trade Details: Seattle sends 2022 1st Round (9th) and 3rd round (72nd); Carolina sends 2022 1st Round (6th)
The Pick: Malik Willis, Quarterback, Liberty
Seattle is in a tenuous spot after trading arguably the most important player in franchise history this offseason. Do the Seahawks steer into the skid and go full-tank in 2022 with Drew Lock as their quarterback, or do they take a shot on finding their next franchise quarterback?
If it's Option B, Willis has to be the guy. Lock is just serviceable enough to start a few games if Willis isn't ready right away, and that will likely be the case anyway.
7.) New York Giants
The Pick: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
The G-Men already addressed their biggest (non-QB) hole with the fifth pick and will now benefit from the EDGE depth in this class and nab a potential stud in Thibodeaux. The Oregon product was the No.2 overall player in the 2019 recruiting class and hit the ground running for the Ducks, racking up 9.0 sacks and 14 tackles for loss as a true freshman. He has the tools to develop into an impact edge rusher despite his stock sliding late in the draft process.
8.) Atlanta Falcons
The Pick: Garrett Wilson, Wide Receiver, Ohio State
It's no secret that Atlanta needs a lot of help everywhere, but its current receiver depth chart is just a pathetic excuse as currently constructed, and this WR class is as stacked as any position in this draft.
Receiver can sometimes be viewed as a luxury pick this early. It's not in this case. It's a necessity for the Falcons.
9.) Carolina Panthers (via trade)
The Pick: Kenny Pickett, Quarterback, Pittsburgh
In this scenario, Carolina is able to accrue some Day 2 draft capital (it currently has none) and still address a significant need. The Sam Darnold experiment isn't going to work out and Carolina needs to at least try to find its quarterback of the future, even if Pickett wouldn't draw Top 10 interest most years.
10.) San Francisco 49ers (via trade)
Trade Details: San Francisco sends Deebo Samuel to the Jets and receives a first-round pick (1.10)
The Pick: Derek Stingley, Cornerback, LSU
The Deebo Samuel situation is going to force San Francisco's hand and the Jets have the cap room and draft capital to be a viable trade partner. Taking a receiver here would make sense for the 49ers, but corner is a pressing need despite the Chavarius Ward signing in March. Stingley is arguably the best corner in the draft and it's hard to see him slipping much past 10th overall, especially in this scenario.
11.) Washington Commanders
The Pick: Drake London, Wide Receiver, USC
Adding in a player like London would give Washington enough ammo out wide to at least give the Carson Wentz experiment a chance at working, as ill-conceived an experiment as it may be.
12.) Minnesota Vikings
The Pick: Kyle Hamilton, Safety, Notre Dame
Once considered a possible Top 5 pick, Hamilton will be a steal here for Minnesota. Hamilton's combine left a bit to be desired in terms of top-end speed, but he flashed plenty of closing speed on film and a player with his other physical tools should be able to translate well to the next level.
13.) Houston Texans
The Pick: Jameson Williams, Wide Receiver, Alabama
I can hear the groans from the fantasy community as I type this out. It might not be as woeful of a landing spot as you'd think, though. Davis Mills showed some flashes last year, particularly down the stretch when he completed 68% of his passes for 1,258 yards with a 9:2 TD:INT in the last five games. Whether Mills is a future star is a different debate, but from a Texans perspective, giving him a weapon like Williams to pair with Brandin Cooks suddenly gives them tons of speed and better spacing in the offense.
Looking at his heat map from the PFF Draft Guide, we see just how effective Williams is down the field. The naysayers might argue that he'd be redundant alongside Cooks -- and it's also fair to note that Mills' 7.8 average depth of throw ranked in the 32nd percentile -- but there's no such thing as having too much speed in a receiving corps.
14.) Baltimore Ravens
The Pick: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
The Ravens spend a first-rounder on Odafe Oweh last year but the team's overall pass rush still needs work after finishing with the seventh-fewest sacks in 2021. Karlaftis can help there, and he's big and versatile enough to line up outside the tackle or play defensive end. Calais Campbell is in the twilight of his career and Derek Wolfe remains a question mark, so adding a player like Karlaftis makes sense.
Baltimore could also target an offensive tackle given Ronnie Stanley's difficult recovery from his 2020 injury and Ja'Wuan James is coming off an Achilles that wiped out his 2021 as well. Central Michigan's Bernhard Raimann would fit the bill as he's more established as a run-blocker than Mississippi State's Charles Cross, who comes to the league from an Air Raid offense in Starkville.
15.) Philadelphia Eagles
The Pick: Jordan Davis, Defensive Tackle, Georgia
Fletcher Cox is entering his age-31 season and is on a one-year deal, so Philadelphia needs to start mulling a succession plan on the defensive interior. Davis fits the bill as a space-eater in the middle. There simply aren't many human beings on earth as big and as athletic as Davis
There are questions about his ability to play a higher snap count than he was asked to at Georgia, and whether that increase would hurt his per-snap effectiveness. Still, Davis can be a wrecker whenever he's on the field and having him learn on the job alongside Cox would set Philadelphia up well for the future.
16.) New Orleans Saints
The Pick: Chris Olave, Wide Receiver, Ohio State
Regardless of what iteration of Michael Thomas is on the field in 2022, New Orleans needs help at receiver. Marquez Callaway proved last year that he's miscast as a WR1 in an offense but adding Olave alongside the returning Thomas would give the Saints three legitimate threats out wide that can attack different levels of the defense.
17.) Los Angeles Chargers
The Pick: Charles Cross, Offensive Tackle, Mississippi State
I would have loved to give the Chargers a speedy receiver in this mock because they desperately need to add that element for Justin Herbert. Unfortunately, the remaining options at that position don't really satisfy that condition, so I can see the Chargers doing the next best thing and investing in protecting Herbert with another talented tackle with top-notch pass-blocking chops. Per PFF, Cross allowed just two sacks last season on an absurd 719 pass-block reps. Having Cross and Rashawn Slater would give the Chargers one of the best young tackle tandems in football.
18.) Pittsburgh Steelers via trade
Trade Details: Pittsburgh sends a first-round pick (20th) and third-round pick (84); Philadelphia sends a first-round pick (18th) and a fifth-round pick (154th)
The Pick: Desmond Ridder, Quarterback, Cincinnati
The Saints are sandwiched between the Eagles and Steelers and Pittsburgh may feel the pressure to leap up ahead of New Orleans to secure a quarterback. Mitchell Trubisky is a fine stopgap option but is far from a franchise quarterback. I'm not completely sold that Ridder is, either, but he has tools and a strong track record from his time at Cincinnati. He'd be a worthwhile gamble for Pittsburgh in this spot and he might not be there if it stands pat at 20.
19.) New Orleans Saints
The Pick: Bernhard Raimann, Offensive Tackle, Central Michigan
James Hurst is a fine enough player but the Saints would do well to bolster their offensive line with Raimann. The Central Michigan product is a standout athlete who is still learning the intricacies of the position after beginning his career as a tight end. He has a slight frame for an NFL tackle at 303 pounds but with his height (6-foot-6), he can add bulk and develop into a strong presence at tackle.
20.) Philadelphia Eagles
The Pick: Trent McDuffie, Cornerback, Washington
The Eagles trade back a couple of picks and still end up with the best corner available, adding a projectable starter opposite Darius Slay. McDuffie is on the smaller side for a corner but he makes up for it with impressive coverage skills that helped him lock down PAC-12 receivers his entire time at Washington.
21.) New England Patriots
The Pick: Nakobe Dean, Linebacker, Georgia
Dean is the type of heady player that Bill Belichick covets. He may lack prototypical size for an inside backer (5-11, 229) but his play recognition is extremely impressive and allows him to play fast and find the ball carrier
This play against Michigan in the College Football Playoff underlines that point and is a nice distillation of what Dean can do in terms of recognition and execution. As is this play. This would be a very Patriots pick.
22.) Green Bay Packers
The Pick: Treylon Burks, Wide Receiver, Arkansas
General Manager Brian Gutekunst would sprint to the phone to get this pick in if Burks is available at 22. The Packers need to A) keep Aaron Rodgers happy and B) restock the receiving corps after Davante Adams' departure. Getting Burks is a good start towards both of those ends.
Burks is a bit of a project. He's raw and PFF notes that 77 percent of his snaps at Arkansas were out of the slot. That being said, there aren't many receivers with Burks' blend of size and athletic traits. His film shows him routinely shrugging off would-be tacklers and running away from defenses on his way to the end zone. With the right coaching, Burks will develop into a standout receiver at the next level.
23.) Arizona Cardinals
The Pick: Tyler Linderbaum, Center, Iowa
Rodney Hudson is 31, entering the last year of his deal and missed five games last season. Linderbaum is easily the best center in the class. He doesn't have the size to kick over to guard, so this could create a big of a logjam in the middle of the Arizona line but Linderbaum fits a best-player-available approach. Mario's projection of Jermaine Johnson to Arizona makes plenty of sense, too.
24.) Dallas Cowboys
The Pick: Devin Lloyd, Middle Linebacker, Utah
I know, I know. Another early linebacker in Dallas. It checks out, though. Adding Lloyd in the middle of Michah Parsons and Leighton Vander Esch would give the Cowboys a scary linebacking corps.
25.) Buffalo Bills
The Pick: Andrew Booth, Cornerback, Clemson
This seems to be the Bingo Free Space of the mock draft world for this stage of the first round. Buffalo has a stacked roster except for corner and running back, and this would be a smidge too early to take Breece Hall when the Bills can get by with the Devin Singletary/Zack Moss/Duke Johnson group. Booth fits a need and presents a nice value at this part of the first.
26.) Tennessee Titans
The Pick: Zion Johnson, Guard, Boston College
Tennessee could go in several directions here, though the Robert Woods addition this offseason likely takes it out of the running for a receiver in the first even though there are some viable options still available in this scenario.
Johnson is a fire hydrant of a guard prospect -- squat and hard to move. He can clear paths for Derrick Henry and the Tennessee run game.
27.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Pick: Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State
Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, last year's first-round pick, is still developing and it's too early to write him off. Tampa Bay could still use additional edge help, though, and Johnson would be a nice value here. Guard is also in play with Ali Marpet's retirement.
28.) Green Bay Packers
The Pick: George Pickens, Wide Receiver, Georgia
It's not entirely out of the realm of possibility that the Packers double-tap at receiver with their duo of first-round picks. Jahan Dotson is worthy of first-round consideration, too, but Pickens fits more with Green Bay's receiver tendencies.
29.) Kansas City Chiefs
The Pick: Jahan Dotson, Wide Receiver, Penn State
Though there's a distinct possibility Kansas City packages its first-round picks to move up higher, the receiver pool may have dried up too much by the middle of the first to warrant making such a move. If that's the case and Dotson is still available, he has to be in play at 29 or 30.
He's no Tyreek Hill, but Dotson is a shifty and speedy receiver who is polished in the short and intermediate passing game. There's also a chance Dotson has untapped potential as a downfield weapon considering that his quarterback play at Penn State didn't really give him a chance to exhibit that facet of his game.
30.) Kansas City Chiefs
The Pick: Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota
Adding Mafe to the front seven would give Kansas City yet another standout athlete who can get after the quarterback.
31.) Cincinnati Bengals
The Pick: Kenyon Green, Guard, Texas A&M
Cincinnati showed what it can do with a slightly below-average offensive line in 2021 and can upgrade that unit to solid by upgrading along the interior at 31. Adding La'El Collins this offseason likely takes tackle out of the equation and Green is the best guard available in this scenario.
32.) Detroit Lions
The Pick: Skyy Moore, Wide Receiver, Western Michigan
Amon-Ra St. Brown has already solidified himself as a solid option out of the slot and adding D.J. Chark gives the Lions a nice size-speed combo at one of the outside spots. The Lions still need more speed there beyond the rotational snaps provided by Khalif Raymond. Moore brings 4.41 speed to the table and is a menace after the catch, so he can turn Jared Goff's dinks and dunks into chunk plays.