It’s that time of year again. With the draft two days away, here are my final picks.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Hutchinson possesses all the traits necessary for him to be a star defensive end. He’s big and powerful with a plethora of pass-rush moves. With Hutchinson, the Jaguars would have two young studs at the most important positions in the game (the other stud being Trevor Lawrence).
2. Detroit Lions – Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
I’ve been a Malik Willis fan since last year, so seeing him become the clear QB1 in the eyes of everyone has been good. I’m taking it a step further, saying he should and will go to the Lions second overall. Quarterbacks always seem to find a way to go high in the draft, and I think Detroit will bet on Willis’s tools and develop him behind Jared Goff.
3. Houston Texans – Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Thibodeaux is a freak athlete that’d be a great fit in Houston. His on-field production at Oregon was phenomenal, although he fell down draft boards a bit when character concerns emerged about him. These concerns seem baseless, so he should still go very high.
4. New York Jets – Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
The Jets need to continue to add protection for Zach Wilson. They need to maximize his development, and to do so, he’ll need a solid O-Line. Ekwonu is a force who could be the future starting right tackle for the Jets.
5. New York Giants – Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
Walker sky-rocketed up draft boards recently. His athleticism is off the charts. However, he produced significantly less than Hutchinson and Thibodeaux in his career, so I wouldn’t take him above either of those players.
6. Carolina Panthers – Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
The Panthers will flirt with taking a quarterback here, but in a tackle-heavy class, they need to take advantage and solidify their left tackle spot. Any QB other than Willis would be a reach here.
7. New York Giants (from Chicago Bears) – Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Gardner goes a lot higher in most mock drafts these days, but I didn’t see a fit for him until now. His combination of length and speed has vaulted him up draft boards. The Giants end up giving their defense a big facelift with this draft.
8. Atlanta Falcons – Jermaine Johnson III, EDGE, Florida State
Johnson is the fourth edge rusher I have going in the top eight picks. He’s explosive and produced big numbers at FSU. The Falcons have been lacking a good player off the edge since Vic Beasley had his one-hit-wonder season.
9. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver Broncos) – Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
With Duane Brown still on the market and a weak group at tackle overall, it’s time for the Seahawks to start looking for protectors. Cross is a skilled pass protector who is also versatile. He could fill Brown’s left tackle spot or slide over to the right if Brown returns.
10. New York Jets (from Seattle Seahawks) – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Wilson did very well at the Combine, propelling him to WR1 on a lot of people’s boards (including mine). He has the potential to be a threat from any distance, and there’s no doubt Zach Wilson would love throwing to him.
11. Washington Commanders – Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Hamilton has dropped a bit due to some concerns with his athletic abilities, but he’s still a top prospect in this class. His instincts and size should make up for his issues. He’d be a perfect finishing touch for this Washington defense.
12. Minnesota Vikings – Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
This would be a great scenario for the Vikings. Stingley has every tool in the box and a strong resumé from his LSU days. Gardner may have passed him, but he’s a strong CB2.
13. Houston Texans (from Cleveland Browns) – Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Davis Mills is expected to have a shot at leading the Texans this season. In order to give him a fair shot at the job, the Texans should give him a true playmaker, which is exactly what Williams is.
14. Baltimore Ravens – Jordan Davis, IDL, Georgia
I can’t think of a better spot for Davis. In Baltimore, he could learn from Calais Campbell, who is another physical specimen. With Davis, the Ravens D-Line would really start to look nasty.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami Dolphins) – Drake London, WR, USC
The Eagles have failed in drafting receivers lately, but they seem to have righted the ship last year by taking DeVonta Smith. So, they draft a USC product here. London is long and mobile, and he could be what J.J. Arcega-Whiteside was supposed to be.
16. New Orleans Saints (from Philadelphia Eagles – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Olave showed surprising explosiveness at the Combine, vaulting him into the first half of this round. He’s a solid route-runner who would complement Michael Thomas well.
17. Los Angeles Chargers – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
Kyzir White left the Chargers, leaving a gaping hole at linebacker. Lloyd and Kenneth Murray would make a great young LB duo.
18. Philadelphia Eagles (from New Orleans Saints) – Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
McDuffie has the ability to play any role in an NFL secondary. For the Eagles, he’d most likely work on the outside opposite Darius Slay, which is a big position of need for them.
19. New Orleans Saints (from Philadelphia Eagles) – Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
The Saints patch another hole here, as Terron Armstead left town in free agency. Penning is unpolished, but his upside is incredibly intriguing.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers – Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
Pickett stays in Pittsburgh here. This would be the perfect value for Pittsburgh and a great situation for Pickett. I could see him taking the starting job from Mitch Trubisky by Week 5.
21. New England Patriots – George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
Karlaftis does not put up huge numbers, but he is stout in run defense. The Patriots lack this type of power rusher, so he would be a nice addition to their front seven.
22. Green Bay Packers (from Las Vegas Raiders) – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
Burks put up subpar numbers at the Combine, but his big-play ability shines through that, as he put up 16.4 yards per catch in his career. The Packers are hurting for playmakers now that Davante Adams is gone.
23. Arizona Cardinals – Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
Elam has shot up draft boards recently. He has great size and length, which are coveted traits in today’s NFL.
24. Dallas Cowboys – Devonte Wyatt, IDL, Georgia
Like the Cards pick before, this is a best-case scenario for the Cowboys. Their interior DLine has been weak for years, so Wyatt would be a great addition.
25. Buffalo Bills – Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
I think Booth is a bit underrated. He showed high-level anticipation skills at Clemson. If the Bills get him here, that could be a steal.
26. Tennessee Titans – Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
Dean is a Swiss-army knife whose quickness enables him to rush the passer and cover well. Mike Vrabel would know how to use him.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Zion Johnson, IOL, Boston College
With the retirement of Ali Marpet, the Bucs lost a great guard in an already thin group at that position. So, in this scenario, they reload by trading for Shaq Mason and drafting Johnson, solidifying Tom Brady’s line.
28. Green Bay Packers – Kenyon Green, IOL, Texas A&M
Green is a versatile player who has snaps pretty much everywhere on the line. The Packers are quite thin on the OLine, which goes under the radar due to their depleted receiving corps.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (from San Francisco 49ers) – Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State University
Explosive is the word you hear associated with Watson a lot. He has a ton of potential and the big-play ability the Chiefs now lack after losing Tyreek Hill. He is by no means very similar to Hill, but Watson has the propensity to stretch the field like he did.
30. Kansas City Chiefs – Arnold Ebikitie, EDGE, Penn State
Ebikitie is undersized, but that didn’t stop him from putting up big numbers in his last season at Penn State. KC needs help for Chris Jones on their DLine.
31. Cincinnati Bengals – Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
This would work perfectly for the Bengals, as Linderbaum is a stud center who’d replace Ted Karras when he’d be ready. Cincy has done a great job rebuilding their OLine this offseason, so this would just be a cherry on top.
32. Detroit Lions (from LA Rams) – Daxton Hill, DB, Michigan
Hill is a versatile secondary player. He could play either slot corner or safety for the Lions, and he’d perform well in either role.