1) Chicago Bears - QB Caleb Williams, USC

There are still a few people that argue Williams shouldn’t be the first pick, but it’s become near impossible for anyone to argue he won’t be. Justin Fields is going to be a backup somewhere once he’s traded in a week or two. My guess is Cleveland.

2) Washington Commanders - QB Jayden Daniels, LSU

I’m not 100% sold that Washington will go with Daniels over Maye, but my confidence continues to grow day by day. Everything I’m coming across points to Daniels pulling away…rightfully so. If I was in charge of Washington I would trade down for a haul, but it seems that Washington is ready to throw their franchise QB right into the fire. Will teams never learn from the lessons of Patrick Mahomes, Jordan Love, and Aaron Rodgers?

3) New England Patriots - QB Drake Maye, North Carolina

The Patriots should 100% trade this pick, but it seems like they are talking themselves into Maye. Much like with Washington it seems my faith in Eliot Wolf was misplaced. I thought for sure the former Packers executive would be wise enough to know this roster isn’t ready for a rookie QB, but this is the world we live in these days. 

These teams are so desperate for respectable QB play that they will ignore any evidence that suggests you don’t have to take QBs at the very top of the draft. The argument is always “Well, we don’t want to be picking this high again and we have a shot to take a good prospect so we might as well do it. You never know if you’ll be in position to do it again.”

 First of all, just because you don’t want to be that high again doesn’t mean you won’t be. And secondly, how many of the best QBs in the league recently were drafted in the top 3-5 in their respective drafts? Burrow, Stafford, Goff, and Kyler all went 1st. Stroud went 2nd. That’s it. After that you have Herbert, Allen, and Mahomes that went 6th, 7th, and 10th (and Mahomes was widely projected to be a late first or second round pick). Aaron Rodgers lasted until 24. Jordan Love went 26th. Lamar Jackson 32. Drew Brees was a 2nd round pick. Dak Prescott and Kirk Cousins went in the fourth round. Tom Brady famously was picked in the sixth. 

All those guys were passed on by multiple teams, in some cases over and over. You absolutely do not have to pick a QB at the top of the draft. The league has shown time and time again that they are terrible when it comes to evaluating QBs. Good ones are available all the time. It’s a lazy, warped idea and it has sunk a lot of teams. 

4) Arizona Cardinals - WR Marvin Harrison, Ohio St

I don’t feel like I have a firm grasp of Arizona’s thinking yet. It’s entirely possible they would prefer to trade this pick, but I also am not sure anyone is willing to trade up to 4 for JJ McCarthy. Assuming QBs go 1-2-3 my best guess is Arizona simply sticks and picks the guy they’ve been linked to since last fall…Marvin Harrison. I’m keeping a close eye on this team for any nuggets about what their plan is.

5) Los Angeles Chargers - WR Malik Nabers, LSU

You don’t often see Nabers projected to the Chargers because everyone is working off the logical assumption that Harbaugh wants to establish a strong run game. Consequently, you often see Joe Alt mocked to them at 5. I had Bowers here last time under similar logic. He’s a decent blocker despite his size, the team needs TEs on the roster, and the quality falls off a cliff after Bowers gets taken. But a few things have caused me to change my mind here.

As far as Alt goes, while I like the player, he’s not the most physical blocker which seems to be a trait that Harbaugh would prioritize in linemen. He also has been a left tackle his whole career and it could be awkward to move him to the right in the NFL. And Bowers I believe is going to fall much further than has been thought because of his size. If he tests as a Vernon Davis level athlete at his pro day then we can reassess. 

So, with those two off the board that really only leaves Nabers as a fit from a pure talent evaluation. And while it’s easy to assume they might not want another receiver after taking Quentin Johnston last year, Johnston has shown absolutely nothing and cannot be counted on. Mike Williams is 100% going to be released. That leaves just 31-year-old Keenan Allen as their only good receiver. The team desperately needs an influx of speed to complement Herbert’s arm as well. That makes Nabers an absolutely perfect fit once you think a little deeper.

6) New York Giants - QB JJ McCarthy, Michigan

By all accounts the Giants are done with Daniel Jones, not because they don’t think he can be a viable QB but because he can’t stay healthy. Two knee injuries and a neck injury in just a few years is too much for him to be counted on. He’s likely to be the day one starter for 2024 but his days are numbered. Ideally, I believe the Giants would prefer to get their hands on Drake Maye, a guy that gives Schoen and Daboll visions of Josh Allen, but my best guess is the Patriots like him too much to pass. They will settle for McCarthy who also happens to fit the profile that management believes is necessary to be the QB in New York, clean-cut, intelligent, and charismatic…just like Eli Manning and Daniel Jones.

7) Tennessee Titans - OT Joe Alt, Notre Dame

I think Tennessee would greatly prefer to take Nabers here and pair his speed with Levis’s big arm, but currently I don’t think that’s likely. It’s possible they could pivot to Rome Odunze. I’m just not sure the league is quite as high on Odunze as the media is. He isn’t the fastest guy on the field and doesn’t separate quite as well as you’d like. I wouldn’t even be shocked if Brian Thomas was picked here ahead of Odunze because of his speed and explosive leaping abilities. I may switch to one of those two at some point, but the offensive line is still a need and Joe Alt is just too good to pass on right now. 

8) Atlanta Falcons - WR Rome Odunze, Washington

Everyone wants to force a pass rusher here and Dallas Turner is an option, but I’ll bet they address pass rusher in free agency along with signing Kirk Cousins. That leaves Atlanta free to once again take the best player on their board which in this case could be Rome Odunze or possibly Brian Thomas if they want a skillset a little more different from Drake London.

9) Chicago Bears - EDGE Dallas Turner, Alabama

I could see the Bears going a number of directions with this pick. They could take another tackle to help protect their new QB. They could take a WR, if one is still available, for their new QB to throw to. Or they could continue to build their pass rush by giving Montez Sweat a bookend. I lean towards this latter option in this scenario although if the team brings in a pass rusher in free agency things could change.

So, which of the three top pass rushers is likely to go first? My pick would be Latu by a mile, but the NFL thinks in different terms. They have these strange notions about what a player is supposed to look like physically, and if he isn’t flexible enough or have long enough arms or doesn’t have an explosive first step, they will dock him. They don’t look at what a player is. They are looking for an ideal, what a player could be. It’s the exact issue Michael Lewis talked about in Moneyball, scouting players based on some weird fantasy about what their potential is based on their body. Bizarre. But because that’s how most of these guys think, there is no doubt Turner will be the top edge rusher taken. I previously thought Verse might be in the conversation but his stiffness and lack of production against decent competition is holding him back. Turner is fast and explosive and better against the run than his most common comp Brian Burns. He’s going high.

10) New York Jets - OT JC Latham, Alabama

Last year everyone and their mother knew the Jets desperately wanted an offensive tackle in the 1st round to help protect Aaron Rodgers. The problem with it being so obvious is it makes you vulnerable to getting exploited and that’s precisely what the Steelers did, trading up in front of the Jets for Broderick Jones. This year has another loaded class of offensive tackles, and the Jets sit a little higher at 10th overall. There’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to take a good one. 

I’m not a Latham fan, but the NFL apparently loves him because of his size, length, and raw strength. This has DJ Fluker written all over it in my opinion.

11) Minnesota Vikings - DT Byron Murphy, Texas

Kirk Cousins is bound for Atlanta and while I’m sure the team would love to trade up for a QB, they are going to get bent over a barrel if they try. If they had been responsible and taken Will Levis last year they wouldn’t be in this predicament. If any team is going to trade up for JJ McCarthy (or Maye if he falls), it’s Minnesota. 

However, I’m going to hold off on that for now and fill another big need. Brian Flores would love to be reunited with Christian Wilkins, but if they can’t bring in the big man during free agency I could see them pivoting to a similar player (on paper) in Byron Murphy. He profiles similarly to Sheldon Rankins and is likely to come off the board in this range.

12) Kansas City Chiefs (trade) - WR Xavier Worthy, Texas

A week ago it was rare to see Worthy mocked as a first round pick (I had him in pre-combine), but after breaking the 40 record at the combine it’s common to see him mocked to the Chiefs with the last pick in the first round. Here’s the thing though…Worthy was never going to last that long even if he hadn't broken the record. Teams already knew he was stupid fast. The media is just late to the party as usual. I promise you that NFL teams are not jumping on bandwagons. Here’s what I had to say in my last mock: “Worthy has fallen out of favor with some mock drafters, but I think it’s a mistake. He is an elite track and field athlete in addition to being a very good and very underrated football player. The NFL is always looking for speed demons and Worthy has that in spades.”

That said if a team wants Worthy they are going to have to jump…high. He’s going much, much higher than the media is guessing. Worthy profiles very closely to John Ross and Henry Ruggs, the 9th and 13th picks respectively in their drafts. In this scenario I have the Broncos trading down because all the obvious first round QBs are off the board, and they desperately need more picks after the disastrous Russell Wilson trade. Never mind that it’s to a division rival. If the Broncos think they are getting a good deal to improve their team, then they will do it.

13) Las Vegas Raiders - CB Quinyon Mitchell, Toledo

Fans want a QB and I imagine they’ll get one at some point. They have too many other holes to deal with and can roll with Aidan O’Connell plus someone later. 

I’m surprised so many in the media don’t realize how badly Vegas wants a cornerback. It has to be at the top of their list. They need a starter across from Nate Hobbs. Terrion Arnold was a common pick here before the draft, but I said all along I expect Quinyon Mitchell will go higher than Arnold because he’s a much faster player. The combine justified that view.

14) New Orleans Saints - OT Olumuyiwa Fashanu, Penn St

The Saints have sold out the last couple of years thinking they were just a player or two away from a Superbowl and it’s gotten them absolutely nowhere. They again have cap issues, very few draft picks from moving up in previous years, and to top it all off they now have the oldest team in the league and several holes opening up all at once. This situation is looking uglier by the day. 

By far the Saints biggest needs are on the offensive and defensive lines. They are going to have to bring in multiple players on both sides. Offensive line arguably has more questions because Trevor Penning has struggled to develop and Ryan Ramczyk has injury issues that might force him to retire. In addition, the Saints love their prototypes and Fashanu has the body for it. He just needs to get stronger and more physical. I could see him falling a little farther than the media expects because of these issues, but I’ll slot him here for the moment. Installing him at left tackle would allow Penning to move to the right side where he might be more well-suited.

15) Indianapolis Colts - WR Brian Thomas, LSU

Previously I thought a big, athletic corner was a great option here, but Indy’s defensive backs room is already very young. I think they’ll target a vet to help out there instead. The team has also been shouting from the mountaintops that they want to get more explosive on offense. A 6’3” receiver with 4.3 speed and ridiculous hops should qualify as explosive. If Thomas is still on the board when Indy picks he will almost certainly be the choice. I’m just not sure he’ll still be on the board…

16) Seattle Seahawks - OT Taliese Fuaga, Oregon St

I believe the Seahawks would really love to trade up for one of Drake Maye or JJ McCarthy, but it feels like they are just too far away to make it happen. Most likely they will stand pat and draft the best offensive tackle that falls to them. Fuaga is just the type of big, physical masher they have always preferred (although that may change now that Pete Carroll is gone) and he’s from Tacoma, Washington just down the road from the Seahawks. One of he or Abraham Lucas would play right tackle and the other would slide inside to guard. I could see Amarius Mims being taken here as well. John Schneider is a huge fan of traits, and Mims is a perfectly constructed tackle.

17) Jacksonville Jaguars - CB Terrion Arnold, Alabama

Wide receiver is definitely in play here as Calvin Ridley is likely to walk, but I’ve heard the Jaguars are searching for a more physical corner to compliment their current room. Arnold fits that description to a T. As I’ve said all along, he is very likely to go after Mitchell because of the difference in their speed. He will also likely go ahead of Wiggins (despite his 4.28 40 yard dash) because Wiggins isn’t very physical and has some work ethic concerns.

18) Cincinnati Bengals - TE Brock Bowers, Georgia

Not long ago I would have considered this a perfect scenario for the Bengals. They have needed a true starting TE for the longest, and none of their attempts had worked out. But they just have so many other needs at the moment that tight end feels a little like a luxury pick even if he is highly rated. I’m sure they would love to get Byron Murphy but he’s likely off the board. I’m sure they’d love an edge rusher, but I don’t think Latu or Jared Verse fits the profile they like. Offensive tackle is a definite possibility. I’m giving them Bowers though because he represents good value at pick 18 and Burrow could always use another weapon. I do think the media is overrating how highly Bowers will go. It’s possible I’m still overrating it here. He checked in at 234 lbs at the combine but didn’t run ostensibly because it would have been slow because he doesn’t normally play that heavy. He’s very small for an NFL tight end.

19) Los Angeles Rams - EDGE Laiatu Latu, UCLA

The Rams could go any number of directions with this pick (assuming they don’t trade it for a star player pre-draft), but if the draft goes like this then they will be staring down the draft’s best pass rusher at 19 overall and I don’t see how they pass on that.

20) Pittsburgh Steelers - OT Amarius Mims, Georgia

Pittsburgh announced loud and clear last year that they want to be a power-run team again, and the hiring of Arthur Smith to run the offense just makes that even more clear. They are looking long and hard for more big, strong, powerful blockers this year. Jackson Powers-Johnson is a definite possibility here, but he might be more of a second-round pick in the end. The team seems to be zeroing in on the absolutely massive Mims with their first pick assuming he’s still on the board. I could see Mims potentially going in the top 10 if a team is comfortable with his lack of experience and injury history. That’s the only thing holding him down right now as he is an ideally constructed tackle at 6’8” 340 lb tackle with very long arms, huge hands, and almost no body fat. Mims is the Platonic ideal at left tackle…provided he can stay healthy and continue to develop his game. Will he last until pick 20? We’ll see.

21) Miami Dolphins - EDGE Chop Robinson, Penn St

The Dolphins have huge cap issues to deal with, and there’s no predicting how the roster will look once they are done. They could take just about any position and it wouldn’t surprise me. 

I’m going to give them Penn St’s Chop Robinson for the moment. Even though the Dolphins already have Jaelen Phillips and Bradley Chubb, teams are always seeking more pass rushers. Chop is a favorite of every amateur tape-watcher on the internet because he’s very fast and flexible. My question is: if he’s so good how come he doesn’t get more sacks? He’s an ok player but a bad run defender and overrated by a certain segment of NFL fans. He’ll come off the board somewhere in the 20’s and those people will be howling that he was the steal of the draft. Watch.

22) Philadelphia Eagles - CB Nate Wiggins, Clemson

The Eagles will be on high alert for edge rushers here, and I’m sure they’d love to have Chop Robinson but he goes one pick before them. Another position they need more talent at is corner. Wiggins is widely considered the best pure corner in the draft but will likely go behind Mitchell and Arnold because he’s a poor tackler and has some minor character concerns. The Eagles will happily scoop him up to pair with all their overrated Georgia players.

23) Houston Texans - EDGE Darius Robinson, Missouri

Like many of the teams in this range, the Texans could pick any number of players and I wouldn’t be surprised. They are likely to lose Jonathan Greenard in free agency and could use some more help opposite of Will Anderson. Robinson is just the kind of physical dominating jumbo defensive lineman that Nick Caserio learned to scout under Belichick. He can play up and down the line and give the Texans a lot of flexibility with their fronts.

24) Dallas Cowboys - LB Edgerrin Cooper, Texas A&M

Dallas has some very clear patterns when it comes to the draft. They prioritize the defensive line, corners, and linebackers very highly, followed by offensive line and receiver. They also like very athletic players and if possible they try to pick a player that is the #1 overall rated player for them at that particular position. Tyler Smith was their top rated guard two years ago and Mazi Smith was their top rated defensive tackle last year. 

I previously thought Cooper wouldn’t be the first linebacker taken because he’s very arrogant and a pain to deal with but also because he’s massively overrated in my opinion…but it seems I am the only scout that thinks so! All I hear about him is what a great player he is which strikes me as bizarre when I see him whiffing tackle after tackle on tape. The stats back me up. There’s no way he’s the best linebacker in this draft, not with Cedric Gray and Payton Wilson around. And yet other than myself I can’t find anyone to say anything negative about him other than character concerns. That’s not enough to keep him out of the first round so I’m giving him to the Cowboys. I’m sure new defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer will love a LB that hits really hard once or twice a game…that’s a valuable trait right?

25) Green Bay Packers - OT Troy Fautanu, Washington

Alright I’ll jump on the offensive tackle to Green Bay train. They definitely need more depth here and it seems likely they’ll have their choice of a few different players that fit what they like. The two that stand out are Fautanu and Graham Barton. The Packers love athletic tackles and particularly guys that can slide inside to guard if needed. The reason these two guys could fall to 25 despite being quality players is Fautanu is a little shorter than ideal and Barton has short arms. Either guy seems right up Green Bay’s alley, but I’ll go with the guy more likely to stick at tackle and probably the better player of the two.

26) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - EDGE Jared Verse, Florida St

Verse is massively overrated by the media, both in how good he is but also where he’ll be taken in the draft. He has “mid 20’s” written all over him. First of all he’s a little smaller than ideal, and he’s also quite stiff as a rusher. The NFL wants to see more bend. The closest comp for Verse is another former Florida St player, Jermaine Johnson, who just like Verse was widely mocked near the top 10 by the media but “fell” to the mid 20s. He was hailed a huge value pick by the Jets at the time, but we haven’t heard a peep from him since.

27) Arizona Cardinals - CB Cooper DeJean, Iowa

It is unreal to me that DeJean could fall this far despite the caliber of player he is, but most scouts are hung up on this idiotic idea that he’s not “twitchy” enough to play outside corner. I remember the same thing being said about Jalen Ramsey. How did that work out? DeJean is going to make a lot of people look really stupid in a few years.

Arizona needs to add to every spot on the team, but they have needed a top corner for years. The previous regime ignored the issue, but I believe it will be addressed this year. DeJean is a perfect fit for Jonathan Gannon’s zone heavy scheme. He can play inside, safety, or the slot and move around as a flexible chess piece the way CJ Gardner-Johnson did for the Eagles while Gannon was the DC.

28) Buffalo Bills - WR Xavier Legette, South Carolina

Many people are mocking a receiver to Buffalo and I’m not going to disagree. The Stefon Diggs drama continues to rage and Gabe Davis is a free agent (I’ll bet he follows Daboll and Schoen to the Giants). The Bills need more juice on offense if they want Josh Allen to outduel Mahomes which is clearly their best path to a Superbowl because you can’t plan on stopping him. The Bills have a massive makeover project coming for their defense, and it’s very possible they will look to the defensive line with this pick. Right now they need multiple bodies just to field a defensive line room. Kris Jenkins would make a ton of sense if they don’t address the position in free agency and maybe even if they do. But you can find decent starting linemen in free agency. What you can’t find is a 220 lb receiver with 4.3 speed to stretch the field. Enter Xavier Legette.

29) Detroit Lions - DT Kris Jenkins, Michigan

The Lions have a terrible secondary which caused their downfall in the NFC championship game when they couldn’t stop Brock Purdy and 49ers in the second half. So, what’s the natural thing to do to shore up your pass defense? Draft a run blocking defensive tackle of course. 

Mock drafters keep making the mistake of assuming NFL teams are going to do logical things like fix their biggest problem or address the passing on either side of the ball. It is beyond obvious that passing effectively and stopping the pass is the key to modern football, but many of these teams are still stuck in 1970, and chief among them is the Lions. Everyone and their grandmother was on the Lions train before the 2023 draft thinking they were this analytically minded, forward-thinking team that would draft a corner in the first round. And then they took a running back and inside linebacker with their top two picks. I was alone in mocking them an RB at the top of the draft (even though I got the wrong RB). And yet even though they have announced over and over that they are an old school team that wants to run the ball and stop the run, it won’t stop most mock drafters from giving them a corner here.

I guarantee the way that Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell view things is 180 degrees the other way. They will assume if they can get the league’s best run defense that it will force teams to pass into them on 3rd and long when they know it’s coming. They think that is how you get a good pass defense. And because of all of this I’m mocking them the perfect player for their tastes. Jenkins has NFL bloodlines (that matters to these people), he’s a weight room junkie, loves football, and is the top rated run blocking DT in this class. His profile is screaming for the Lions.

30) Baltimore Ravens - OG Graham Barton, Duke

The Ravens are going to take the best player on their board if they don’t just trade down. Who knows what that could be. They need offensive line, edge rushers, and receivers the most. There just so happens to be a very good guard prospect available here and the Ravens could definitely use some interior line help. Graham Barton it is.

31) San Francisco 49ers - OT Tyler Guyton, Oklahoma

Who knows what the Niners will choose to do here. Trading back wouldn’t be a surprise. But if they stay and pick their biggest need is clearly a new right tackle and ideally a guy that could feasibly replace Trent Williams on the left someday. 

Guyton has a lot of traits the NFL really covets in offensive tackles, but he’s also quite raw and still learning the game after being a late starter. He’ll go late in the first round or early second to a team that wants to develop him into an eventual starting left tackle.

32) Denver Broncos (trade) - QB Bo Nix, Oregon

The Broncos never even got close to the top 4 QBs, so they can trade all the way to the back of the first round, recoup some draft picks to help fill out the team, and still take the QB that’s the best fit for what Sean Payton wants to do. Taking Nix in the first also prevents them from missing out on him later in the second and nets them a valuable 5th year option down the road. Nix won’t fit for many teams in the league, but he is ideal for the Broncos in particular. Payton wants a smart QB that can run his offense on time as directed and with accuracy. Nix exhibits similar traits to Drew Brees and Tony Romo, two favorites of Payton’s. It’s a perfect match.



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