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First-round NFL mock draft: Jets trade up, Giants nab star

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Offensive stars run the show in this first-round NFL mock draft

The main event of the offseason is almost here: It’s NFL Draft week. Without further ado, it’s for a full first-round mock draft.

1. Chicago Bears: Caleb Williams, QB, USC

This is a slam dunk. The Bears traded away Justin Fields earlier in the offseason in preparation to draft Williams. He’s viewed as one of the greatest QB prospects of all time, and has already been compared to the likes of Mahomes, Luck, Manning, and Elway.

You can lock this one in if you haven’t already.

2. Washington Commanders: Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

There have been rumors lately that Jayden Daniels is trying to tank his draft stock enough that the Raiders or the Vikings have a chance to draft him. But that’s not going to work here. Washington, under new leadership, knows they have the offensive talent to make Jayden Daniels a star, even if he doesn’t know it.

Getting the chance to throw the ball to Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson isn’t as sexy as Davante Adams or Justin Jefferson, but it’s still a great pair of receivers. Not to mention, Washington’s OL is a little better than given credit for. Sam Howell’s tendency to hold onto the ball made them look worse than they are.

So, Washington is going to drain out the noise here and take the best QB on the board.

3. New England Patriots: Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

There are rumors floating around that the Patriots like JJ McCarthy and are considering him with this pick, but I’m not buying it. The Pats are too talent-deficient on the offensive side of the ball to go with a game manager at quarterback like McCarthy. They need someone who lifts up the entire team with their play.

Drake Maye is the only guy left on the board who has the potential to be that guy. Yes, his numbers declined this past season. That doesn’t mean he’s dead in the water though. Maye has elite physical traits and he’s going to be just 22 years old when the season begins.

The Pats are going to take their time developing him, even if it means Jacoby Brissett is the Week 1 QB.

4. Arizona Cardinals: Marvin Harrison Jr, WR, Ohio State

The Cardinals could trade out of this spot, but recent reporting says they’d need to get a haul to do so. I don’t think Minnesota is going to give up what it’s going to take for the Cardinals to pass on the best WR in the class.

So, Arizona takes the player they’ve been connected to all year giving Kyler Murray a new weapon, as they hope to jump-start their offense.

5. Minnesota Vikings (from LAC): JJ McCarthy, QB, Michigan

The Vikings may not have wanted to pay the Cardinals’ price, but the Chargers may be actively looking to trade down. That should soften the price enough for Minnesota to jump in front of the Giants and get their QB.

The Vikings have to do something. They can’t go into the season with Sam Darnold as their only potential starting QB. Even if they have an elite OL and offensive weapons, they still need a QB capable of running their offense. That’s basically the definition of JJ McCarthy.

6. New York Giants: Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

The New York Giants narrowly miss out on their QB, but they’re okay with that, at least for one more season. Instead, they get to add the most explosive wide receiver in the draft.

With Nabers added to their receiver room, the Giants hope to get one last good look at Daniel Jones. This is it, the make-or-break year. Either Jones takes the reigns as the QB with a new WR1, or he falters and the Giants have a potentially elite weapon ready to go for a rookie QB in 2025.

7. Tennessee Titans: Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame

This is one of the easiest picks in this mock. If Joe Alt makes his way to the Titans at 7 then you can lock this pick in. New head coach Brian Callahan addressed the WR position in free agency, bringing in Calvin Ridley and re-signing Nick Wesbrook-Ikhine. So they’re able to focus on the OL, which has been one of the worst in the NFL the last few years.

With legendary OL Coach Bill Callahan at the helm, the Titans take the top OT in this draft class – a move they hope solidifies the LT spot for the next decade.

8. New York Jets (from ATL): Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

The closer we get to the draft, the more this feels like the most likely outcome. The Jets clearly want to get their hands on an elite pass catcher in this draft. It’s all Joe Douglas talked about during his pre-draft press conference.

Yes, Brock Bowers at 10 is an option. But the top three WRs are in a league of their own in this draft class. The Jets did a ton of work on Odunze, in the leadup to the draft, and Nabers as well. Given the chance, they’re going to jump on one of them.

Here they give up No. 111 and a 2025 4th to move up two spots and secure Odunze, a WR who’s a perfect complement to Garrett Wilson and Mike Williams.

9. Chicago Bears: Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama

The Bears wanted a WR to fall to them so they could complete a deadly trio of weapons for Caleb Williams. But since they got jumped by the Jets, they’ll turn their focus to defense instead.

Turner is the best pass rusher in the class, and the Bears get to pair him with Montez Sweat. That should give them an elite pass-rushing pairing that could set the tone for a defense that’s struggled in recent years.

10. Atlanta Falcons (from NYJ): Laitu Latu, EDGE, UCLA

This is one that’s been building recently. The Falcons’ odds of drafting Latu have skyrocketed. He’s now nearly tied on the odds market to be the selection at 8th overall.

If the Falcons truly feel that Latu and Turner are close, or they’re even considering Latu at 8, trading down for more capital makes sense. If Latu is their guy, there’s no doubt they would be able to get him at 10 anyway.

11. Los Angeles Chargers (from MIN): JC Latham, OT, Alabama

Jim Harbaugh has talked about fixing the trenches all offseason. He wants to balance out the Chargers offense and build a brick wall in front of Justin Herbert. So they traded down in search of a RT to play opposite Rashawn Slater.

Here they get Latham. He’s the type of powerful blocker that Harbaugh has always coveted, as he’s spent his whole career at Alabama playing the right side. He should be a seamless fit.

12. Denver Broncos: Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

Sean Payton drafted Jimmy Graham and developed him into one of the best TEs in the history of football. He did so by turning him into a slot WR and using his size and speed to create mismatches in a way that revolutionized the TE position at the time.

Now Payton has the chance to draft a similar player. Bowers spent about 60% of his snaps at Georgia playing in the slot where his elite size and speed wrecked defenses. If anyone in the NFL is going to know how to use Bowers, it’s the man who practically invented the modern position that he plays.

13. Las Vegas Raiders: Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State

The Raiders let their starting RT from a year ago, Jermaine Eluemunor, walk in free agency. They’ve done nothing to fill the hole that has created on their offensive line.

So in comes Taliese Fuaga, one of the nastiest blockers in this class. With his athleticism, strength, and mean streak, Fuaga has a chance to be the best OT in this class when we look back in five years.

14. New Orleans Saints: Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU

The Saints’ lack of offensive weapons is killer to an offense that only needs to be average to give this team a shot to win games. Yes, Chris Olave is fantastic, but there’s not much behind him.

That’s where Brian Thomas Jr. and his big play ability come in. With Thomas and Olave on the field, the Saints will have the potential to test defenses deep in a way few other teams in the NFL can. That should open up the offense some for Derek Carr in his second season with the team.

15. Indianapolis Colts: Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

The Colts could go a bunch of different ways here. They don’t have many holes that need to be filled immediately, so I’m giving them the best player left on my board. That’s Quinyon Mitchell.

A standout at the Senior Bowl, Mitchell is a dominant athlete who was one of the few CBs in college football that was able to contain Marvin Harrison Jr. He can play opposite Kenny Moore this year and eventually usurp him as the team’s long-term CB1.

16. Seattle Seahawks: Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

The Seahawks did well last season to rank top-10 in sacks without any players reaching double digits. How sustainable is that, though? Seattle could believe that with a returning Uchenna Nwosu, their defense doesn’t need another pass rusher, but the value here is too great.

Jared Verse is a potential top-10 pick hanging around the board at 16. Even if he’s only a rotation player this season – and he’ll have a chance to compete to be much more than that – it’s still too good for Seattle to pass on. After all, teams can’t ever have too many pass rushers.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars: Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

The Jaguars are in desperate need of some CB help. Right now, Ronald Darby is set to be CB2 opposite Tyson Campbell. Darby hasn’t played 500 snaps as an outside CB since 2021, when he had a 58.7 PFF coverage grade.

Lucky for Jacksonville, Terrion Arnold has slid down to them at 17 thanks to an early run on offense. Arnold would compete with Darby for that CB2 spot, and could end up Jacksonville’s CB1 by the end of his rookie season.

18. Cincinnati Bengals: Troy Fautanu, OT, Washington

The Bengals offensive line continues to be a mess. Year after year, no matter what changes are made, it seems to always be a problem. So, for the first time since 2019, they take an offensive lineman in the first round.

Troy Fautanu is a perfect fit here due to his versatility. He doesn’t have to start at OT this year, with Orlando Brown and Trent Brown entrenched at those spots. Instead, he can compete for a guard spot before kicking out to OT in the years to come.

19. Buffalo Bills (from LAR): Adonai Mitchell, WR, Texas

The Bills are in desperate need of a WR, so they jump way up to secure the best one left on the board.

Adonai Mitchell is a raw prospect with an elite ceiling. He’s not a polished route runner, he doesn’t run the full route tree, and he doesn’t have the high-end technique that makes many rookies elite on Day 1. What he does have is a size and speed combo that few have ever had in the history of the NFL. Mitchell posted a 9.99 RAS, the fifth-best in the history of the combine.

With Josh Allen at quarterback, the Bills are able to take a chance on a WR that could end up becoming one of the stars of the game, even if he may not be ready for that role as a rookie.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas

We have back-to-back Texas WRs in this mock draft. The Steelers traded away Diontae Johnson and currently don’t have a reliable slot receiver on their roster. Enter the fastest man in the history of the NFL.

Xavier Worthy saw his stock rise after posting a 4.21 40-yard dash, setting a new combine record. But he’s more than that. He’s a good route runner, a great returner, and he wins at all three levels.

The big concern is his size and how he’ll play in the NFL given the uptick in physicality he’ll face. But with a gaping hole at slot WR, and no offensive tackles worth taking left on the board, the Steelers take a chance.

21. Miami Dolphins: Graham Barton, IOL, Duke

The Dolphins lost Connor Williams and Robert Hunt to free agency. While they did bring in Aaron Brewer to help fill some of that void, their interior offensive line still needs serious work.

Graham Barton comes in as the top interior offensive lineman in the class, capable of playing both guard and center at the next level. He provides the versatility and high-end talent that the Dolphins need, as they look to keep Tua Tagovailoa upright in the pocket.

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa

The Eagles’ secondary was a problem last year. They spent some of free agency rebuilding it by bringing back CJ Gardner-Johnson. Yes, Darius Slay and James Bradberry are still there, as is last year’s rookie standout Kelee Ringo. But none of them have the longterm potential of Cooper DeJean.

If not for an injury, DeJean would have torn up the combine and his stock would likely be higher than it is now. But he was hurt, and the Eagles benefit. DeJean can step in right away and help the Eagles’ secondary in a number of ways, whether it’s at CB, where he can play inside or out, or at safety, where he can take over for Reed Blankenship. The Eagles may decide to use him as the Swiss army knife of their defense, playing him wherever they see fit to take advantage of his size, speed, and coverage ability.

He’s a chess piece for them that should help this secondary bounce back from a poor showing in 2023.

23. Los Angeles Chargers (from MIN): Ladd McConkey, WR, Georgia

After landing an offensive lineman with the first pick they received from the Vikings, the Chargers can now focus on adding pass catchers after letting Keenan Allen and Mike Williams leave this offseason.

In Ladd McConkey, the Chargers are getting one of the highest floor prospects in this class. There’s little McConkey does wrong on a football field. He’s a great route runner, he’s a willing blocker, he has good hands. He may not be the athlete that some of these other guys are, but he’s solid in that department too.

McConkey may not be the WR1 that the Chargers need, but adding him will go a long way toward fixing that offense.

24. Dallas Cowboys: Jackson Powers-Johnson, IOL, Oregon

The Cowboys’ interior offensive line is a mess. They lost Tyler Biadsz in free agency, and with Tyron Smith gone, Tyler Smith is going to move to LT. That leaves vacancies at both LG and C. For a team that relies heavily on their offensive line for any kind of offensive success, that’s not a tenable situation.

So, the Cowboys grab the best interior offensive lineman available. Jackson Powers-Johnson is the best pure center in this draft class. He’d be a seamless fit as a replacement for Biadsz.

25. Green Bay Packers: Byron Murphy, DT, Texas

This is way too low for Murhpy, but I just couldn’t find another spot for him. A disruptive DT who affects both the pass and run game, he’s arguably the best defensive player in this class.

Murphy would fit right in for the Packers next to Kenny Clark after Devonte Wyatt has disappointed. It’s highly unlikely he falls this far – someone will take a chance on his talent over an actual need – but if he does get here, the Packers would run their card up.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Chop Robinson, EDGE, Penn State

Todd Bowles’ defense is built on pressure. If his team isn’t getting to the QB then the defense isn’t playing up to par. So, with Shaq Barrett leaving in free agency, the Bucs have to replace that pass rushing from somewhere.

The only first-round EDGE left on the board, Chop Robinson is the easy pick here.

27. Arizona Cardinals: Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

The Cardinals CB2 right now is up in the air. They don’t have anyone on the roster who can comfortably take that spot. With little left on the free agent market, they have to address it here in the draft.

They get Kool-Aid McKinstry, the top CB in this class coming into the season. Questions arose about his athleticism, but at the end of the first round, the Cardinals are going to trust the tape here.

28. Los Angeles Rams (from BUF): Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

The Rams’ offensive line has been a huge mess since Andrew Whitworth retired. So, after trading down, they take the best OT on the board, and a player who has as high a ceiling as anyone in this draft class.

Mims’ tape is elite and his athleticism is elite. His availability on the field, not so much. Mims has dealt with numerous injuries during his time in college, which has led to little playing time. Over his three seasons at Georgia, he played fewer snaps than all the other OTs coming off the board in this mock played in 2023 alone.

If Los Angeles can keep him on the field, this pick could end up being one of the steals of the draft, especially considering they traded down nearly 10 spots.

29. Detroit Lions: Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson

The Lions’ pass defense eventually sank them in the playoffs last season. They were able to overcome it to an extreme degree for most of the season, but eventually, it got to be too much.

Nate Wiggins would come in alongside Carlton Davis and Amik Robertson to form a competitive group of cornerbacks. That’s not to mention Brian Branch who can play both CB and safety. It’s a huge upgrade for the Lions as they look to put the final pieces together for a Super Bowl run.

30. Baltimore Ravens: Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma

The Ravens traded away Morgan Moses this offseason in a surprise move. That’s created an opportunity for Daniel Faalele to take over the RT spot. But given the Ravens’ need for their OL to be among the best in the NFL for their run-based offense to work, I can’t see them not having a contingency plan.

Enter Tyler Guyton, who’s a raw OT prospect, but one with the elite physical traits that say he could be a star when all is said and done. For the Ravens, he’d be a welcome addition who’d be able to compete for the RT job. But even if he doesn’t win it, he’d get to develop for a year before getting another crack at it.

31. Carolina Panthers (from SF): Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon

The Panthers are sitting with two picks in the top 10 of the second round this year. With the Chiefs looming at 32, they trade up to jump the Chiefs before they have a chance to steal a WR from them.

In Troy Franklin, the Panthers are getting a dynamic deep threat who would complement Adam Theilen nicely. It’s a much-needed addition for Carolina as they look to build around Bryce Young.

32. Kansas City Chiefs: Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State

Keon Coleman is a polarizing prospect. For most of the season, he was seen not only as a potential top-10 pick but maybe even a top-5 pick. But then his production trailed off as the season went on, as did the entire Florida State offense, and the combine was very unkind to him.

Still, Coleman has an ideal combination of incredible size and leaping ability. He’s perhaps the strongest WR in this class, and his ability to high-point the ball is second to none. Say what you will about his route running, his speed, or anything else, but Coleman can win 50-50 balls and dominate in the red zone.

A quarterback like Patrick Mahomes doesn’t need elite separators because he has the ability to throw people open. Having a receiver like Coleman, who can win those contested balls and be a red-zone threat, would be a boon for a Chiefs team that struggled in the red zone during the regular season.

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verge tibbs
verge tibbs
1 month ago

Id be annoyed if they traded up for odunze

Peter Buell
Peter Buell
1 month ago

Had they drafted Zay Flowers or even Smith Njigba instead of McDonald they would be trading up for Alt this year.
Hope I eat Crow but that was a weird pick.