Round 1 NFL Mock Draft – WITH 6 DRAFT DAY TRADES!!!
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1. Carolina Panthers (from Chicago): Bryce Young QB Alabama
This pick seems to be in the bag. Carolina traded up from Number 9 with Chicago to get their choice of the Top QB’s. After about a month of mixed reporting, it seems clear the Panthers are going after Bryce Young. The Panthers needed to do this since it’s clear free agent QBs aren’t interested in coming to town. We’ll see how well Young adjusts to the NFL, but Carolina gets their franchise QB with this pick.
2. Houston: Jalen Carter DT Georgia
Houston ends up going with the best player available here. More recent reports indicate that the Texans are not interested in a QB at this spot. Which makes sense given the makeup of the new coaching staff. DeMeco Ryan’s comes from San Francisco, where the model is to build a great defense, running game, and have a facilitator at QB. DT may not be the biggest position of need, but Ryan’s defensive identity was strength along the interior defensive line. I think it’ll be hard for this coaching staff to look past Carter and what he brings to the table. The character questions about Carter are a bit overblown and I don’t see any reason to pass up the best player in the draft here.
3. Arizona Cardinals: Will Anderson DE Alabama
On the surface I think Arizona has many options here. However, when you boil it down, wouldn’t they want to get the best player available at a position of need? The Cardinals are thin on the defensive line and Anderson is arguably the best DE in the draft, if not the best player. Additionally, as much as the media wants you to believe, I don’t think there is a big trade market in the Top 5 or Top 10 draft picks. The Cardinals should be very happy with this result.
4. Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Richardson QB Florida
This makes a lot of football sense to me. New head coach Shane Steichen came from the Philadelphia offense, where Jalen Hurts was the Quarterback. Richardson is a bigger, more athletic version of Hurt. Why not try to install a similar offense in Indy with Richardson? I firmly believe that if Indy goes this route, it is because they believe he will be the next star Quarterback in this league and it won’t matter who’s on the board. As long as he is there.
5. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver): Tyree Wilson DE/OLB Texas Tech
Mulled on this pick for a while but I settled with Wilson because he addresses an area of need. Other thoughts were Devin Witherspoon or even Peter Skoronski here. Wilson brings versatility, athleticism, and a lot of potential along the front seven. The team struggled against the run and QB pressures. Wilson should be able to help with both.
6. Detroit Lions (from LAR): Bijon Robinson RB Texas
Here me out on this! I have thought long and hard about this pick and I believe the Lions should not pass him up here. As a rookie, he will make the Lions the best offense in the league. How do you stop that running game with that offensive line? Robinson is a three-down back as well, an excellent blocker and receiver on passing downs. This pick will allow the Lions to move on from DeAndre Swift via trade or cutting him.
7. Las Vegas Raiders: Christian Gonzalez CB Oregon
Another tough call for me. I felt the Raiders had to make a move at either CB or RT here. The deciding factor here to me is how awful the Raiders secondary currently is. The offensive line isn’t terrible but could use upgrades. The Raiders need to get secondary help immediately. Tough call between Gonzalez and Witherspoon but gave the nod to Gonzalez.
Drafting a quarterback here would be just about the most dysfunctional thing the Raiders have ever done. They just signed Jimmy G. to a 3-year deal this off-season. He just got out of a situation where the team didn’t believe in him and drafted a QB that didn’t pan out. He signed with the Raiders thinking that he’d be the guy. I could see them drafting someone in the later rounds to develop. However, any thought at a QB here should not be warranted.
8. Atlanta Falcons: CJ Stroud QB Ohio State
The Falcons lay back and wait for their man to drop to them. Surprisingly this team does not have a lot of needs. DE is the primary need that they still need to address. But it’s going to be hard for the Falcons to pass up Stroud when he falls in their laps here. Ritter was a 3rd round pick so there isn’t really any issue with doubling down on this position in back to back drafts. Most feel Ritter isn’t the guy and while Atlanta may love him, how much do they love him? Do they love him like a starter? Or backup? I think the latter and I think if they are in this position they role with Stroud.
9. Chicago Bears (from Carolina): Paris Johnson Jr. OT Ohio State
After seeing the 3rd QB go off the board, the phones might start ringing more with this pick. However, the Bears need to solve the offensive line and Johnson is the best tackle on the board. He can start on the left or right side, but should be the final piece to their puzzle on the offensive line. The team will surely need to address the defensive line later.
10. TRADES: New England Patriots (from Houston through Philly and New Orleans): Will Levis QB Kentucky
Buckle up folks because I’m going to take you on a wild ride with this projected trade. Actually, I am projecting TWO trades when this pick is on the clock.
To start, I think the basis of this trade is with New England and Houston. It is my opinion that Houston would love Mac Jones and New England can’t wait to get rid of him. So they work out the parameters of a trade before the draft and wait until this pick.
1st Trade: Houston trades their 4th round pick (#104) to Philly to move up two spots. Simple enough right? Houston is doing this to complete the trade for Mac Jones so New England can get their guy (Will Levis).
2nd Trade: The Patriots give up their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round picks (14, 46, and 76) PLUS QB Mac Jones to the Houston Texans for the 10th overall pick, their 2nd and 3rd round picks (33 and 65), and Davis Mills. Essentially Houston and New England swap 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round picks, as well as Mac Jones and Davis Mills. The Patriots 3rd wasn’t originally in the trade package but they added it in because Houston gave up a 4th to get the 10th pick.
Why does this make sense? Because Bill is done with Mac Jones. He won’t commit to him as their starter and they don’t seem to be on the same page. They fell in love with Will Levis during the draft process and want to reset the Franchise QB clock. Levis competes with Mills in New England for the starting QB position year one with the nod long term to Levis.
The Texans get the QB of their future in Mac Jones. A guy that the coaching staff watched real close when they were in San Francisco in 2021. The coaching staff wanted Mac and they decided he’s better than any rookie coming out in this draft.
Lastly, trading up with Philly ensures New England that Tennessee doesn’t take their guy. Philly gets a nice little 4th round pick for their efforts.
11. Tennessee Titans: Peter Skoronski OT/OG Northwestern
Over the past few years, it feels like the Titans got away from building their offensive line. It is now a very weak unit on the roster and they are going to fix it immediately with this pick. Skoronski is the most polished lineman in the draft and meshes perfectly with the identity of the Tennessee Titans football team. He fits in immediately at LG, probably with a chance of playing left tackle if Dillard doesn’t work out.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (from Houston through Cleveland): Myles Murphy DE Clemson
Luxury pick here for the Eagles and they go with someone who can develop behind a veteran defensive line group. It may see like a reach here, but Philly has always placed a high priority on the offensive and defensive lines. And with what happened in free agency, the Eagles need to replenish the defensive line group immediately.
13. Green Bay Packers (from NYJ): Michael Mayer TE Notre Dame
Mayer is a perfect fit for the team that wants to be more run centric. He’s also a great receiving TE and security blanket for Jordan Love. Originally thought this trade wouldn’t happen until draft night, but the trigger was pulled on Monday.
14. Houston Texans (from New England): Jaxon Smith-Njigba WR Ohio State
After securing the best d lineman in the draft, and Mac Jones in the earlier trade, the Texans get the best wide receiver. JSN is just the type of receiver that works well with Mac and the new offense.
15. New York Jets (from GB): Darnell Weight RT Tennessee
After securing Aaron Rodgers earlier, the Jets need to protect him. Wright is the most ready to play tackle in the draft. This allows them to focus Becton on the left side. If they need to, they can pull the trigger on Duane Brown for another year.
16. Detroit Lions (from Washington): Devin Witherspoon CB Illinois
This guy epitomizes what the Detroit Lions are all about. The team didn’t think they could get him here but saw him slide to 16 and realize this is the time to pull the trigger. Witherspoon may not be in a position to start right away, but that may be exactly what he needs at this juncture in his career.
The Lions give up their 3rd round pick (81) to Washington to trade up. Washington gives back their 4th round pick (118)
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Joey Porter Jr CB Penn State
This makes too much sense to ignore. The bloodlines in Pittsburgh are real. There is a need for a corner on this team. Porter makes sense and will be loved by the franchise.
18. Washington Commanders (from Detroit): Deonte Banks CB Maryland
Washington needs corners and trades down to get a local product. Banks has been rising up media draft boards so this may come off as a bit of a reach, but he’s probably the 3rd or 4th best corner on most boards.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Broderick Jones OT Georgia
The Buccaneers are in need of offensive line help and are thankful that Jones falls to them at 19. The addition of Jones also allows Wirfs to stay on the right side of the offensive line, minimizing the amount of shuffling up front.
20. Seattle Seahawks: O’Cyrus Torrence OG Florida
The Seahawks solved their immediate need on the d line with the 5th overall pick. Now they shift their attention to the offensive line, where the interior could use an upgrade. Torrence would slide in at RG on day one.
21. LA Chargers: Jahmyr Gibbs RB Alabama
For a team with limited needs, I think this makes a lot of sense. Their current running back is holding out for more money. Gibbs can come in as a low cost replacement to either pair with Eckler this year or be the new feature back on the team.
22. TRADE: New Orleans Saints (from Baltimore): Lukas Van Ness DE Iowa
The addition of Derek Carr allowed the Saints to solidify their offense. With that said, their defense didn’t really come together until the end of the year. They really struggled getting pressure on the QB the past couple years. Van Ness may be a project, but could contribute early on passing-downs.
The Saints give up the 29th (1st) and 71st (3rd) round picks to the Ravens to get him.
23. TRADE: Tennessee Titans (from Minnesota): Hendon Hooker QB Tennessee
A lot of people feel the Vikings will take Hooker here. Like it or not though, Kirk Cousins is still playing at a high level. He’s in the final year of his deal but I could definitely see him sticking around for a few more years. Minnesota has limited draft capital and a lot of needs so I think moving back to accumulate more picks makes sense.
Tennessee is in a different situation. Tannehill seems to be regressing and wasn’t the guy 3 years ago who took over the offense. Now they can look to start Hooker whenever he is healthy and/or ready to play. Hooker is also a local fan favorite and this would be a popular pick for the team.
Tennessee trades the 41st (2nd) pick this year and a 2024 2nd round pick to Minnesota to move up.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Emmanuel Forbes CB Mississippi State
The Jaguars are in a bit of a luxurious position. They don’t have a lot of needs and could draft for depth. You can never have too many cornerbacks on your team and Forbes could be an immediate contributor in nickel or dime coverage. He’s a bit undersized, but tall, quick and athletic. Could be great with enough development.
25. TRADE: Cincinnati Bengals (from NY Giants): Quinten Johnston WR TCU
The Giants will give up the 25th (1st), 172nd (5th), and 240th (7th) picks in this years’ draft to the Bengals for WR Tee Higgins. The Bengals have too many talented players to try and sign long term. They replace Higgins with another big body WR at a much lower cost rate.
26. Dallas Cowboys: Drew Sanders LB Arkansas
Another team that is drafting with limited needs. However, the Cowboys have dealt with injuries at linebacker the past few years. Sanders is a bit of a unicorn at LB, but that could be exactly what a coach like Dan Quinn is looking for at the position. Someone he can mold and use in a lot of different positions.
27. Buffalo Bills: Dalton Kincaid TE Utah
The Bills need to add more weapons to this offense. Kincaid is arguably the best TE in the draft and would provide immediate support in the passing game. Buffalo would be ecstatic if he is on the board here.
28. Cincinnati Bengals: Nolan Smith DE Georgia
The Bengals had a hard time getting Mahomes to the ground in the AFC Championship game. Smith would be a bit of a project but is generally more comfortable in a 4-3 defense. He may help as a situational guy in the first year and could develop into a great DE over time.
29. Baltimore Ravens (from NO through Den, Miami, and SF): Cam Smith CB South Carolina
Typically a strong position for this team, the Ravens are getting a little older on the back end. While Smith may have a ceiling as a Number 2 corner, that’ll be fine for a Raven team that still has Marlon Humphrey as their shut down guy.
30. Philadelphia Eagles: Brian Breese DT Clemson
The Eagles lost a lot of talent on their defensive line. Breese will help supplant some of that loss. Much like the Murphy pick, he may not start right away but can work his way into a rotational role for sure.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: Cody Mauch OT North Dakota State
To close out the first round, the Chiefs add an offensive lineman who will compete for reps at right tackle.
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