Soon the time has come: Then the theoretical choices and thought games become concrete players. The teams put the cards on the table, and last but not least, the very open quarterback questions in this draft are answered. SPOXIn his final mock draft for this year, editor Adrian Franke predicts the first round on Thursday.
The draft week is finally here! Months of analysis, forecasts and rankings result in the final mock draft: My Mock Draft 3.0!
In this version, all 32 teams are involved, which means a lot of extra work this year. Because: Exactly a quarter of the league does not have a first-round pick after various trades! With the Raiders, Miami and Rams, three teams choose for the first time in round 3, ie outside the top 85.
It is impossible to predict which player may still be here. To simulate the best possible for this exercise, I used the board from Grinding of taunts used, which determines an average value based on the evaluation of hundreds of taunts. For the selections, I only took into account players who would have been available at the respective venue based on this list.
Finally the important remark: This mockery does not describe what I would do or what I think is the ideal solution for the teams. I try to use my taunts to predict what teams will do – not what they might want to do.
1.JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS — AIDAN HUTCHINSON, EDGE, MICHIGAN
It’s an open secret that the Jaguars would love to swap this pick – suggesting that Jacksonville has not fallen madly in love with any of the options available here, at least for once. I just can not quite see WHO could get up here, let alone for who.
And then there are the Travon Walker rumors. Yes, the connection to GM Trent Baalke and his preference for extremely athletically strong players has already been discussed for a long time – but I just can not see it. Walker has excellent athletics, but even given his role in the Georgia defense, he has not shown them to a degree that would warrant a first overall pick.
Another thing to keep in mind at this time of year is that teams are only too happy to spread rumors that help them. Could Jacksonville itself spread the word to find a trading partner – perhaps because someone wants to go up for Hutchinson? At the end of the day, I think the Jaguars can not find a trading partner and even choose the “safe” route, in the form of Hutchinson, the player with the highest floor in the top lane.
2. DETROIT LIONS – TRAVON WALKER, EDGE, GEORGIA
The Walker hype is and remains at least a notch above that in my opinion – purely from my pre-draft analysis, it could be compared to if Odafe Oweh had gone into the top 10 in the draft last year.
But artificially driven rumors or not, at this point I suppose there is at least one core of truth; and that Walker is selected in the top 5.
Not least because he would fit in on any team with a top 5 pick and serve a need. Lions will go for an edge rusher early in the draft, and Walker is perhaps more in line with Detroit management’s vision here than, say, a Kayvon Thibodeaux.
3.HOUSTON TEXANS – AHMAD GARDNER, CB, CINCINNATI
If Travon Walker is still with me, I bet the Texans will strike. But rumors are rife that Gardner is a serious option here – and a look at the Texans’ roster leaves no doubt that cornerbacking is a need. Gardner would make one side of the cover very difficult for opposing attacks to play vertically, especially.
The alternative would be the offensive line, and then Evan Neal would be my choice. Tunsil may be gone next season, Tytus Howard enters the penultimate year of his rookie deal – and Neal could easily start his NFL career on guard, he has already played that, as well as both tackles.
4. NEW YORK JETS – KAYVON THIBODEAUX, EDGE, OREGON
I see Thibodeaux’s Floor in 8th place for the Falcons – and despite the rumors, I think he’s going even earlier. The Jets invested in Carl Lawson last offseaon, which then got hurt; and even with Lawson back on the field, he lacks a No. 1 edge rusher.
Thibodeaux has that upside, and it’s important to Robert Saleh’s defense that the four – man line can dominate. With Thibodeaux, Quinnen Williams, Sheldon Rankins and Carl Lawson, Gang Green would have the means to do so.
5. NEW YORK GIANTS – DEREK STINGLEY, CB, LSU
By the time Stingley got his pro day, he had gotten himself back in the top 10 conversation, and while the Giants can count on at least one top tackle at number 7 still being there, Stingley could be swapped for number 6.
Stingley’s college career has undeniably had its ups and downs over the last two years. But Stingley has a unique potential and would fit perfectly with Don Martindale’s defense. In return, a farewell to James Bradberry would probably be a final decision.
6. CAROLINA PANTHERS — IKEM EKWONU, OT, NORTH CAROLINA STATE
The Panthers, without their own choice in the second or third round, would be very happy to trade down here. But is anyone already coming up to that spot, for a tackle or for a quarterback?
And then there’s another dynamic here: Yes, for Matt Rhule it’s about the job, no coach is sitting in a more shaky chair before the start of next season. But that does not apply to GM Scott Fitterer, who worked in various roles at the Seahawks from 2001 to 2020 and took over as GM in Carolina last year.
Does Fitter really want to draft a quarterback like Kenny Pickett, or maybe Desmond Knight, so he can start right away? Rhule’s future in Carolina hangs in the balance, but the more I think about it, the less sensible it gives that Fitterer would tie his own destiny to a quarterback on the spot.
Instead, the Panthers attack their biggest problem with the best offensive tackle on the board – and there are other options in the form of Jimmy Garoppolo or Baker Mayfield, who may look more attractive and come in cheaper in the summer.
7. NEW YORK GIANTS – CHARLES CROSS, OT, MISSISSIPPI STATE
The Giants have draft capital, and it’s no secret that they have to tackle their offensive line. Cross is the best pass block in the draft; the next step would be to figure out how to split him and Andrew Thomas.
But I can not imagine New York going out of the top 7 without an offensive tackle. And Cross’ qualities in passing protection should delight Brian Daboll immensely.
+++ TRADE! The Saints trade with the Falcons and come up from choice 16 +++
8. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (scandalous trade with the Falcons) – EVAN NEAL, OT, ALABAMA
I’m sticking to that: even with a sometimes wild – or let’s call it: short-term – functioning front office like the one in New Orleans, I can not imagine making a deal three weeks before the draft to get another first-round pick for sure, just so you have more choices this year.
I believe the Saints have developed this trade because they are involved this Pull ammunition to potentially climb into the top 10 based on that – and stay flexible beyond that. Both New York teams would be an option, perhaps a barter on election number five to climb ahead of the Panthers.
They should at least get ahead of the Seahawks if their goal is actually one of the best tackles. And more and more, I think the trade is initiated for that purpose.