This article is part of our NFL Draft series.
ICYMI, this pre-draft rookie top 50 is no paywall also.
This mock projects four trades.
-NYJ trades No. 10 and 2023 third-round pick to CAR for No. 6
-PHI trades No. 15 and No. 101 to CAR for No. 10
-GB trades No. 22, No. 132 and No. 140 to LAC for No. 17
-SEA trades No. 40 and No. 109 to DET for No. 32 and No. 177
- Jacksonville – Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
There's plenty of chatter that the Jaguars might take Travon Walker here, and it's certainly a possibility to take seriously. As much as he gets bad press sometimes, Walker has as strong of a case for the first pick as Hutchinson.
2. Detroit – Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
If the Lions pass on Willis here then they go into 2022 knowing they need to draft a quarterback in 2023. And yet, their substantial capital in this draft likely dictates an improved 2022 roster – perhaps substantially improved, in which case they would likely have much less capital to acquire a quarterback in 2023, assuming one even proves themselves worth the consideration. If they take Willis they can give him a redshirt year and cut or trade Jared Goff to no penalty after this year.
3. Houston – Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Neal would give Houston an elite right tackle prospect at the least, and the option to move left tackle Laremy Tunsil for a substantial haul otherwise.
4. Jets – Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina State
Something seems to be up between Robert Saleh and Mekhi Becton. Picking a coach over Becton might be a bad idea by the Jets, but selecting Ekwonu would be consistent with that.
5. Giants – Travon Walker, DE, Georgia
I'm a lot higher on Walker than most, so this would be a nice pick for the Giants I think.
6. Jets (from Carolina) – Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
The Jets missed on Tyreek Hill and A.J. Brown. Drake London is the top wideout most likely to be available at their original 10th selection, but he might be redundant to Corey Davis. Williams' unique downfield abilities stand out and might make him the target of an aggressive suitor.
7. Giants (from CHI) – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Wilson isn't Stefon Diggs and in some ways might risk redundancy to Kadarius Toney, but Brian Daboll understands the need for firepower at receiver and it would be understandable if the durability history of Toney, Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton left him a bit anxious.
8. Atlanta – Drake London, WR, USC
London isn't known as a bruising blocker exactly, but his big frame would complement the eventual ground game ambitions of Arthur Smith. Of course, London is also a conventionally strong receiver prospect, which the Falcons need. They could justify targeting a quarterback too, of course, though this would be early.
9. Seattle (from DEN) – Sauce Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Pete Carroll probably thinks the Seahawks are just a piece away from the new Legion of Boom. He's wrong, but he's also in charge.
10. Philadelphia (from SEA via NYJ and CAR) – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Perhaps Olave is too aesthetically similar to DeVonta Smith – a lightly-built phantom of a route runner – but the Eagles would give defenses reason to hesitate before bringing a safety into the box if Smith and Olave are both on the field.
11. Washington – Derek Stingley, CB, LSU
Stingley belongs in the top 10 but for whatever reason it seems like he might not end up there.
12. Minnesota – Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
The Vikings would probably prefer Stingley, so if Washington passes on him then that would be a slam dunk pick for Minnesota.
13. Houston (from CLE) – Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
Davis is a nice pick for a team that needs to stop the run, and a team trailing as often as Houston qualifies.
14. Baltimore – Kayvon Thibodeaux, (3-4) OLB, Oregon
Some of the league seems borderline distrustful of Thibodeaux, but the Ravens would presumably be eager to capitalize on that fact if so.
15. Carolina (from MIA via PHI) – Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
If not for COVID, Pickett would have played four rather miserable seasons at Pittsburgh and would at best be on some team's practice squad right now. I think the team that takes him will be a failing team, and the Panthers meet the definition. To be fair, trading back this far would make the pick far more palatable than taking Pickett at six.
16. New Orleans (from IND via PHI) – Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
The Saints have a solid defense and an offensive line that's a decent left tackle away from a strong offensive line. Teams with good defenses and offensive lines tend to be competitive, and competitive teams don't get high draft picks with which to select top quarterback prospects. If the Saints pass on Ridder there's no guarantee they get an option half as good with their 2023 draft.
17. Green Bay (from LAC) – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
If the wide receiver thirst is as real as this mock scenario implies, then the Packers need to jump the Saints to get Burks. If they don't get at least Burks then Aaron Rodgers might pout the rest of his Packers career.
18. Philadelphia (from NO) – George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue
Karlaftis is a classic 4-3 edge menace, and he fits the Eagles' type.
19. New Orleans (from PHI) - Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
Cross would have no trouble clearing the first 10 picks in a tackle class weaker than this one, so the Saints should consider themselves fortunate if he falls this far.
20. Pittsburgh – Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
Penning is extremely annoying and would fit in great with the Steelers.
21. New England – Leo Chenal, LB, Wisconsin
This is the wackiest projected pick so far, but I'd just be surprised if Bill Belichick didn't love Chenal, who I find generally underrated. An absolute hammer in the middle.
22. Chargers (from LV via GB) – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
Conventionally regarded as the top inside linebacker in the draft, Lloyd has some questionable practices as a run stopper but is athletic and was highly productive in college.
23. Arizona – Jermaine Johnson, (3-4) OLB, Florida State
Hopefully a good Chandler Jones replacement.
24. Dallas – Boye Mafe, DE, Minnesota
Mafe would be a steal this late and fits a need for Dallas.
25. Buffalo – Andrew Booth, CB, Clemson
Booth is probably worth a pick well earlier than this, so Buffalo would have reason to consider trading up even before this pick. Booth could be a real Last Piece pick for this team.
26. Tennessee – Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M
Rodger Saffold is out, so the Titans need a new bulldozer on the interior line.
27. Tampa Bay – Zion Johnson, G, Boston College
The Buccaneers could use another guard, even after acquiring Shaq Mason.
28. Green Bay – George Pickens, WR, Georgia
29. Kansas City (from SF via MIA) – Dax Hill, CB/S, Michigan
30. Kansas City - Arnold Ebiketie, DE/OLB, Penn State
Although less toolsy than some of the other top edge rushers in this class, Ebiketie should offer a high floor and his production implies plenty of upside too.
31. Cincinnati – Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
The Washington corner duo is more conventionally valued, but they both are less toolsy than Elam. The Bengals seem to prefer size at outside corner, and he offers that more even with superior athleticism.
32. Seattle (from LAR via DET) – Tyler Smith, OT/G, Tulsa
Maybe Seattle would take a quarterback in this trade-up scenario, let's assume Matt Corral, but Smith should be an ideal Pete Carroll tackle prospect thanks to his unique run-blocking upside.
33. Jacksonville – Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
Credit to Jaguars beat writer John Shipley (@_John_Shipley) for pointing out Jacksonville's potential interest in McBride. I'm a bit lower on McBride than most, but he was definitely a memorably productive player in college.
34. Detroit - David Ojabo, DE/OLB, Michigan
Both a good pick and a good PR pick for the Lions.
35. Jets – Zyon McCollum, CB, Sam Houston State
Perhaps this is too early for the small school corner, but his combine workout was one for the ages and players like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Rashean Mathis show that small school athletic freaks sometimes crash the top of the draft order.
36. Giants – Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
Raimann is inexperienced and a bit light, but the Giants can give him a redshirt year at right tackle if necessary.
37. Houston – Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
38. Jets (from CAR) - Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
The Jets understand they need to help Zack Wilson if he's going to succeed. In this scenario they are already maxed out at receiver, so it would make sense to add Hall to make one of the league's most feared one-two punches with Michael Carter.
39. Chicago – Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan
Moore is short but stout, and he packs a lot of explosiveness on that dense frame. Moore is a significantly better prospect than former teammate Dee Eskridge, who the Seahawks took in the second round of the 2021 draft.
40. Detroit (from DEN via SEA) – Lewis Cine, S, Georgia (6-2, 199)
If Cine were 10 pounds heavier he'd probably draw consideration in the top 20, so Detroit would be lucky to get him this late.
41. Seattle - Matt Corral, QB, Mississippi
I don't really get it with Corral but that he was invited to the draft indicates he shouldn't fall too far.
42. Indianapolis (from WAS) – Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
He can't do everything T.Y. Hilton can – Hilton was an incredible player out of Florida International – but Dotson can probably be an Emmanuel Sanders type, and the Colts could certainly use that. Dotson is absolutely capable of a big rookie year impact if he lands a leading role in a functional passing offense, which Matt Ryan almost certainly would provide.
43. Atlanta - Nik Bonitto, (3-4) OLB, Oklahoma
In a weaker edge class there would be a surprisingly good case to advocate Bonitto in the first round.
44. Cleveland – DeVonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia
Wyatt could go earlier than this because he's very athletic. If he falls this far it could be due to a perceived inability to handle two-gap tasks.
45. Baltimore – Travis Jones, DT, Connecticut
The Ravens have some formidable names in their front three, but mostly rotational veterans whose durability can't be trusted. Jones is worth an earlier pick than this.
46. Minnesota – Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
McDuffie would be a strong pick for Minnesota if his short reach doesn't hold him back.
47. Washington (from IND) – Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State
Washington isn't as committed to Logan Thomas as some think – his contract is affordable – and a pick like Ruckert would allow Thomas to focus more on route running.
48. Chicago (from LAC) – Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
Gordon would pair well stylistically with Jaylon Johnson.
49. New Orleans – Alec Pierce, WR, Cincinnati
This might be early for Pierce but the Saints still don't truly know what they have in Michael Thomas, and none of their base offense personnel offers much in the way of speed. Pierce would be bigger and faster than any current Saints starter.
50. Kansas City (from MIA) - Khalil Shakir, WR, Boise State
Shakir can't seem to get the respect he deserves – watch him rake if he ends up in a good offense.
51. Philadelphia – Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
Eagles linebackers were a problem last year.
52. Pittsburgh – Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
Linderbaum is generally expected to go sooner than this – he's just small.
53. Green Bay (from LV) – Drake Jackson, DE/OLB, USC
54. New England – Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA
Woolen is a way better version of the premise that Bill Belichick entertained with the selection of Joejuan Williams.
55. Arizona – Kenneth Walker, RB, Michigan State
This would of course irritate a lot of people – probably both Walker and James Conner investors – but we should be prepared for both of Walker and Hall to land in spots that frustrate us.
56. Dallas – Tyquan Thornton, WR, Baylor
Maybe this is too high for Thornton, but Dallas should keep a close eye on him.
57. Buffalo – Cole Strange, G, Tennessee-Chattanooga
The Bills are short on needs, so they don't need to rush Strange if he needs any time to acclimate from the jump from Chattanooga's level of competition.
58. Atlanta (from TEN) – Quay Walker, LB, Georgia
Adding an in-state prospect at a position of need would be nice.
59. Green Bay - Cade Otton, TE, Washington
The Packers like to have options at tight end, and they might take one like Otton even with Robert Tonyan and Josiah Deguara already in the fold. This pick would likely work out better than the Jace Sternberger one did.
60. Tampa Bay – Phidarian Mathis, DT, Alabama
The Buccaneers can go in pretty much any direction, but depth at tackle or cornerback might be the preferred outcome here. Mathis and Vita Vea would keep the linebackers clean.
61. San Francisco – Perrion Winfrey, DT, Oklahoma State
While he's too small to play two-gap at tackle, Winfrey provides inside-out versatility and should hold up fine at tackle in four-man fronts on passing downs.
62. Kansas City – Joshua Williams, CB, Fayetteville State
Williams is from a very small school but possesses uncommon developmental upside as an outside press corner.
63. Cincinnati – Calvin Austin, WR, Memphis
The Bengals offense is already strong but it would be understandable if they wanted a bit more speed, and someone can probably convince themselves Austin is the next Tyreek Hill (he is not).
64. Denver (from LAR) – Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
The Broncos roster is solid – aside from inside linebacker most picks they can make would add strength to strength, including this one.