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A week before the NFL draft, the significant storylines have focused. Quarterbacks are always the headliner, and the concerns in this class have been much publicized. Two scenarios exist: either front offices will panic about the position and push players into the top half of the first round or exhibit patience and wait. The intrigue is unprecedented at this point in the process. Meanwhile, wide receivers have dominated the headlines through the offseason. The changing contract structures at the position have accelerated the demand for a deep class and increased the value of the additional fifth year given to first-round picks.
This three-round mock explores each team's decision in round one before summarizing the final haul in the draft's first two days.
#1 - Jacksonville Jaguars - Aidan Hutchinson (Edge, Michigan 6'6" 265)
The team has stated a goal to build around Trevor Lawrence. There are only two logical choices in the class: offensive tackle and edge. The team franchised Cam Robinson for the second season, locking in their left tackle. Undoubtedly they would love for a trade to materialize with someone coming to get Malik Willis. Moving back would position them to take the last player in the top tier.
Things have turned interesting post combine. The talk around the facility has centered on Hutchinson, an edge they can pair with star Josh Allen long-term. In his tenure with the 49ers, GM Trent Baalke favored the defensive line heavily, using three of his seven first-round picks on defensive linemen (Aldon Smith, Arik Armstead, and DeForest Buckner). It is smokescreen season, and the team could be simply playing the Lions for a potential flip-up. But as it stands, the buzz out of Jacksonville has centered on Hutchinson with the top pick.
Needs: DL / LB / S
#2 - Detroit Lions - Kayvon Thibodeaux (Edge, Oregon 6’5” 258)
NFL franchises look to be strong in five areas: quarterback, offensive tackle, wide receiver, pass rush, and primary cornerback. The Lions are in the talent acquisition phase of their rebuild and are checking off boxes on franchise cornerstones, taking corner Jeffrey Okudah, tackle Penei Sewell, and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown in the past two drafts. Thibodeaux spent most of the fall viewed as the consensus top pick in the draft. But much of the predraft process has reports featured reports from the notorious "unnamed scout" about his work ethic and love for football.
Thibodeaux is the best prospect in the draft. He does not lack confidence. But Dan Campbell has focused on building a culture centered around competition. The Lions block the noise and take the premier prospect to add to a defense that placed dead last in quarterback hit percentage at 5.3%
Needs: QB / LB / DB
#3 - Houston Texans - Evan Neal (Offensive tackle, Alabama 6'7" 351)
The top of this draft is fluid, speaking to the cluster of talent at many positions and the post-apocalyptic hellscape doting rosters of the teams at the top. The Texans are another team desperate for a trade offer, and now they have replenished their draft capital following the Deshaun Watson trade.
The Texans restructured Laremy Tunsil's contract and extended Brandin Cooks, cementing the foundation for a stated commitment to developing Davis Mills. The offensive line still needs significant help after allowing the second-lowest time to throw, and Neal gives a bookend to Tunsil. GM Nick Caserio is still putting his stamp on the roster, and early in his career in player personnel with New England, the team selected Logan Mankins, a mauler who set the tone on the offensive line. Neal would serve to give the Texans similar toughness up front.
Needs: ED / OL / WR / DB
#4 - New York Jets - Ahmad Gardner (CB, Cincinnati 6'2" 188)
Gardner is the type of competitive corner teams crave, comparing himself to Jalen Ramsey and Richard Sherman and profiling to an alpha lockdown corner role. Jets coach Robert Saleh had a front-row seat in Seattle for the prime of Sherman's career and knew the impact locking down half the field brings. Gardner at this selection would solidify the CB1 position and allow Saleh to creatively move pieces around to build out the back half of his defense. The Jets allowed opponents to score on 48.9% of their drives, the highest in the league (for context, the Texans placed 6th at 42%, nearly ten percentage points lower).
Needs: WR / LB / CB / ED
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#5 - New York Giants - Ikem Ekwonu (OT, NC State 6'4" 320)
The offensive line was a significant problem in 2021, and the Giants have started the offseason by adding solid interior pieces in guard Mark Glowinski and center Jon Feliciano (who followed coach Brian Daboll from Buffalo). Ekwonu gives them a bookend to the emerging Andrew Thomas and represents a step forward in rebuilding a line that contributed to the second-fewest passing yards in the NFL with just 3,196.
Ekwonu possesses the athleticism and versatility to play through the line. Pairing him with Thomas locks the tackles in long-term and puts Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley in the best position of their career.
Needs: OL / ED / LB
#6 - Carolina Panthers - Charles Cross (OT, Miss St 6'5" 310)
This year, the biggest question in the top ten relies upon Carolina going quarterback at this pick. Talk has swirled around Kenny Pickett, given his relationship with Matt Rhule and view in consensus as to the most pro-ready prospect. However, the team must answer major questions first if a player like Pickett or Malik Willis is worth this high pick but second if Rhule and Ben McAdoo are the right minds to tutor a young quarterback. The lack of draft capital accelerates the Panthers' situation as the team's next pick is in round four. This pick is the breaking point of the draft; a quarterback here could see a flurry in the upcoming picks as needy teams scramble to grab a seat before the music stops.
The more prudent action is to add badly needed help and target a veteran quarterback like Jimmy Garoppolo or Baker Mayfield to add stability to the offense. Cross is a polished pass-blocking left tackle who earned 1st team all-SEC honors. Left tackle is a glaring need, with journeyman Cam Erving currently slotted to start on an offense that led the league with a 28.3% pressure rate allowed. The Panthers are not in a position to risk a quarterback at this pick.
Needs: QB / OL / CB
#7 - New York Giants - Jermaine Johnson (Edge, Florida St 6'5" 260)
Are you sensing a theme? The Giants are another top ten team who struggled to pressure the quarterback in 2021, with a third-worst 20.1%. Pass rush is the most critical element of NFL defense; if a team cannot get pressure with four, they need to send five. The calculus continues leaving units exposed on the back end of their defenses.
Johnson has an upside that places him with the top pass rushers in this draft. The team used a 2nd round pick on Azeez Ojulari in 2021, and while he showed flashes, he is not the type to dictate offensive block schemes. Johnson compares very favorably to long-time Bills rusher Jerry Hughes, bringing length and a solid athletic profile to the position.
Needs: OL / ED / LB
#8 - Atlanta Falcons - Drake London (WR, USC 6’4” 209)
The Falcons are staring at a similar conversation as the Panthers regarding quarterback. The team has voiced commitment to Marcus Mariota, potentially allowing a young player to develop. The rub is the worst wide receiver room in the league that will struggle to draw attention away from Kyle Pitts, putting any quarterback in a compromised position.
Enter London. London fixes a need on an offense that finished bottom ten in points per game at 18.4 and lost franchise cornerstone Matt Ryan, this offseason. Arthur Smith's offenses emphasize size as a building block, and London has it in spades. Auden Tate (6'5" 228) is an addition, but the room lacks another receiver over 5'11" who expect to see significant playing time.
Fantasy Aspect: The availability of targets makes this appealing, though the potential ceiling in the offense is unavoidable. London would be a boon for Kyle Pitts entering his second year, a real outside option to work in two man-games to free both players up, assuming Mariotta can support the passing volume.
Needs: QB / OL / DL / CB
#9 - Seattle Seahawks - Travon Walker (Edge, Georgia 6'5" 272)
The Seahawks organization has long been at the forefront of analytical athleticism draft models, and Walker popped to the top of the draft after the combine. His 9.99 Relative Athletic Score in Kent Lee Platte's model placed him third since 1987 at defensive end. Another top ten draft team, another bottom ten pressure rate with the Seahawks 22.1% placing seventh-worst. The Seahawks could enter the conversation for a quarterback and may feel pressured if they see one or two off the board by this pick, but they can hold off with patience exhibited across the league.
Needs: QB / OL / ED / CB
#10 - New York Jets - Jameson Williams (WR, Alabama 6'2" 189)
The Jets are going to use this pick on a wide receiver. Will it be a rookie wide receiver, or will they swing a trade for a player like Deebo Samuel, DK Metcalf, or A.J. Brown? This exercise is completed without trades leaving them to sit and pick, but Williams is a fantastic fit in the offense. The Jets had the third-lowest intended air yards per attempt, a function of an offense that likes to quickly get the ball in the player's hands on the move to create after the catch and a testament to the lack of deep speed in their receiver group.
Williams can thrive in both roles.
His speed strikes fear, and he posted 19.9 yards per catch, sixth in college football, and would lift defensive attention allowing Elijah Moore to excel inside his slot role. Meanwhile, Williams is comfortable catching on the run and creating after the catch.
Fantasy Aspect: Elijah Moore emerged as Zack Wilson's go-to target before an injury ended his season in week 14. Williams is talented enough to emerge as the primary position weapon in this offense but will likely start slow in redraft formats. Williams would first serve in a field-stretching capacity when he can recover from a torn ACL fully.
Needs: WR / LB / CB / ED
#11 - Washington Commanders - Kyle Hamilton (S, ND 6'4" 224)
Hamilton is the most baffling case in this class. On tape, he is a truly transcendent talent, both able to come up and play in the box and serve to erase the deep middle. But teams have been reluctant to embrace the position's value, and predraft testing has not been kind. Still, there is poetry in this landing spot, with Washington losing Sean Taylor much too early and now drafting a player whose play style evokes comparisons. The team released Landon Collins in a cost-savings move but currently lacks a player to play the hybrid role he took over in a defense that allowed the fourth-most passing yards with 4,333.
Needs: QB / OL / DB
#12 - Minnesota Vikings - Derek Stingley Jr. (CB, LSU 6'1" 190)
Minnesota was directly behind Washington in passing yards allowed, with 4,300. 2020 3rd round pick Cameron Dantzler has been passable at one corner, but the team has relied on Patrick Peterson on the other, and entering age 33, his best football is behind him. Stingley Jr. is an exceptional talent who can lock down an opponent's top wide receiver, allowing the rest of the defense to find more comfortable roles. A 4.37 40 time at his pro day helps avail any potential concerns on a Lisfranc injury and clears his way at the top of the draft. At pick 12, this looms as a potential steal.
Needs: ED / LB / DB
#13 - Houston Texans - Garrett Wilson (WR, Ohio St 6'0" 192)
Brandin Cooks receiving a two-year contract extension just shy of $40 million was one of the feel-good stories of the offseason. But with the unproven Nico Collins the clear number two option this offseason, the team has to look at solutions for the fifth-worst passing offense. Wilson is a dynamic player in the conversation as the first wide receiver off the board. Working with Cooks, the team can use Wilson both in the slot and outside, while Collins's talent locks him locked into an outside role.
Despite limited weapons, Houston was able to finish as a top 10 passing offense during a roller-coaster season. Davis Mills showed some real flashes, and Neal and Wilson dramatically upgraded the talent around him.
Fantasy Aspect: Cooks lined up in the slot about 28% of the time; Wilson can comfortably mirror that, allowing the two to work off each other. The addition of Wilson would look to offset the 123 targets that allowed Brandin Cooks to finish 14th in that category. But improved talent in the offense could serve to raise the ceiling on an offense that finished 30th at 16.5 points per game.
Needs: ED / OL / WR / DB
#14 - Baltimore Ravens - Jordan Davis (DT, Georgia 6'3" 341)
The team has currently moved on from their long-time defensive line centerpiece Brandon Williams, and depth on the defensive line now sits thin. Davis has all the makings of a classic Ravens draft pick, an impact player at a blue blood college football program who blew the combine out with a perfect score in Kent Lee Platte's relative athletic score.
This standing is aggressive as there are questions about how many snaps per game Davis can handle, but the Ravens have a history of building their teams around players with this profile.
Needs: OL / DL / WR / DB
#15 - Philadelphia Eagles - Trent McDuffie (CB, Washington 5'10" 193)
The Eagles find themselves fortunate to possess multiple early picks without glaring positional needs. McDuffie is a value pick at this spot, a plus athlete at a premier position who could go higher, and the Eagles select the best player available. McDuffie strengthens a unit that finished in the top half of most statistical categories. Darius Slay is a star but will be 32, and the team has no natural successor as a top corner.
Needs: WR / LB / DB
#16 - New Orleans Saints - Trevor Penning (OT, Northern Iowa, 6'7" 322)
The Saints would likely want to add a tackle and a wide receiver with their picks coming up, but the needs of the teams drafting before pick #19 create conflict. The loss of Terron Armstead forces the Saints hand to address the offensive line. Penning is another player who could see his name earlier; he has the potential versatility to play either tackle spot and has a fabled mean streak that would set the tone for any offensive line. Tackle wins out over wide receiver in this spot, and Penning is the ideal blend of need and value.
Needs: WR / OL / DB
#17 - Los Angeles Chargers - Chris Olave (WR, Ohio St 6'0" 187)
In the arms race of the AFC West, it is almost time for the Chargers to make another move. Olave would be it. A wide receiver with the speed to stretch the field vertically (4.39 40), he presents an upgrade over Jalen Guyton as the third WR in three-wide receiver sets and has the versatility to take over the long term for Keenan Allen. The team would have loved to land Penning but saw him go one pick before, potentially a driver in the Saints - Eagles trade that saw the Saints swing in front of the Chargers while giving up 2023 draft capital.
Despite relocating to Columbus for his college experience, Olave is a local kid from Mission Hills, just south of Los Angeles.
Fantasy Aspect: The excitement of linking any of these wide receivers to an elite young quarterback is real. Olave likely eases in as a rookie, serving primarily to stretch the field and lands as a boom-bust option. The real benefactor may be Mike Williams. Williams was hot to start the season, averaging ten targets per game, but in weeks 6 through 16, that cooled dramatically to just six.
Needs: WR / OL / DB
#18 - Philadelphia Eagles - Devin Lloyd (LB, Utah, 6'3" 236)
Much has been put out about Howie Roseman's lack of history with linebackers early, but the Eagles saw firsthand the impact Micah Parsons had on the Cowboys. The Eagles' run defense was strong, ranking 5th in yards per attempt, and the pass defense placed in the top half, but Lloyd projects as a difference-making chess piece the Eagles lack. Lloyd brings defensive back instincts to the position while still showing a natural ability to rush the passer. Lloyd can be the piece to take a strong defense and bring them up to the elite. His ability to stay on the field in all packages is what teams seek at the position.
Needs: WR / LB / DB
#19 - New Orleans Saints - Lewis Cine (S, Georgia 6'2" 199)
The Saints would likely look to start their draft tackle and wide receiver, and Olave would be a natural selection, but he is off the board. Value becomes questionable to follow up with the remaining wide receivers, so they look to address a huge hole created in their secondary following the departures of Marcus Williams (Baltimore) and Malcolm Jenkins (retirement). Cine is a versatile safety able to play high coverage and come down and strike ball carriers. The team has brought in veterans in Marcus Maye and Daniel Sorenson to try and smooth over the position, but no one on the roster comes close to Cine's ceiling.
Needs: WR / OL / DB
#20 - Pittsburgh Steelers - Malik Willis (QB, Liberty 6'0" 219)
The first quarterback off the board and likely Malik Willis's floor will lead Mike Tomlin to cartwheels if any draft whispers about the relationship between the two are true. Willis is the most athletic quarterback in the draft, with the arm strength to stress a defense vertically. On pure gifts alone, he could be in consideration to go as high as second overall. Replacing Ben Roethlisberger with Willis in the Steelers offense would be akin to trading a beloved farm truck for a Maserati.
However, there are downsides, a tendency to take sacks waiting on receivers to open vs. trusting his reads fully. Still, bringing upgraded mobility to the position should help an offensive line with the lowest pocket time in the league at 2.1 seconds.
Fantasy Aspect: Willis needs some time to get acclimated and could see himself sitting behind Mitch Trubisky. But when he gets into the game, the tools should translate to fantasy production even in a one quarterback league. The real benefactor may be Chase Claypool. Claypool struggled in a quick timing-based offense, and his 11.1 ppg placed him outside the top 40. A switch to an athlete like Willis and the ability to extend plays would let Claypool play to his strengths.
Needs: QB / OL / DB
#21 - New England Patriots - Daxton Hill (DB, Michigan 6'0" 192)
Since last summer, the Patriots have lost J.C. Jackson and Stephon Gilmore out of their cornerback room. Hill is a versatile player who primarily played safety at Michigan but possesses cover skills to play outside. Bill Belichick has valued corners willing to play physically and support the run game; a strength Hill would bring to the position.
Needs: WR / ED / DB
#22 - Green Bay Packers - Skyy Moore (WR, Western Michigan 5'10" 195)
The biggest question around the Packers is when, not if, they address the wide receiver position. Moore is a plus athlete who is comfortable out of the slot and athletic enough to play outside. A high school quarterback, he brings a natural football IQ reminiscent of Randall Cobb's career path with Cobb's background as a quarterback for Kentucky. The Packers already possess two-slot wide receivers in Cobb and Amari Rodgers, so this pick is a fair question, but the drumbeat has been loud on this connection.
Needs: WR / OL
#23 - Arizona Cardinals - Zion Johnson (G, Boston College 6'3" 312)
The Cardinals have not used a pick higher than 72 on an offensive lineman since 2015, and the atrophy on the offensive line is apparent. The team has consistently relied on filling their line with players on second or third teams. Johnson has played every offensive line position and should improve the caliber of play of his teammates along the line before slotting long-term into the place that meshes productivity and value. In a tumultuous offseason for the franchise, he is a natural leader (two-time captain) who can provide stability.
Needs: OL / DL / DB
#24 - Dallas Cowboys - Treylon Burks (WR, Arkansas 6'2" 225)
This pick has Jerry Jones written all over. He is a big-bodied wide receiver from his alma mater Arkansas that potentially fits within the Cowboy's lineage of star players in a similar frame. Burks fills a need with the departure of Amari Cooper. Ceedee Lamb has the pressure to take over as the alpha, and his game compliments the liabilities in Burks' game. Burks will likely need to operate as a big slot who can stretch the field vertically and work within schemed touches underneath. Lamb and Michael Gallup both have flexibility in their games to accommodate those limitations.
Fantasy Aspect: This landing spot could lead to a slow fantasy start to Burks career as it should be time to see Lamb dominate looks and Gallup live up to his contract. A blessing in disguise as Burks would land with a high-level quarterback in Dak Prescott and diminished pressure on early expectations.
Needs: OL / DL / LB
#25 - Buffalo Bills - George Pickens (WR, Georgia 6'3" 200)
Cornerback has to be in serious consideration at this pick, but after the Bills re-sign Stefon Diggs to one of the most significant wide receiver contracts, the team could stand to give Josh Allen one more target. Pickens has the athleticism to clear defensive backs deep and would provide a lethal combination with Allen's arm strength. Long-term, Pickens has the ceiling to develop into a number one wide receiver, taking pressure off Gabriel Davis to grow beyond a deep threat.
Fantasy Aspect: Diggs will be hitting his age 29 season, and while he is still productive, the team's success needs to shift focus to getting him through the regular season healthy. Davis flashed in a field-stretching role but has not expanded. Pickens can fill that role, allowing Davis the opportunity to grow his role. For Josh Allen, this would round out the most talented group of receivers he has ever had the luxury of leaning on.
Needs: WR / DL
#26 - Tennessee Titans - Kenyon Green (G, Texas A&M 6'4" 325)
Green can maul in the run game, a significant need within the Titans scheme, while still possessing the balance to serve as a pass blocker. Ryan Tannehill took 64 hits, ranking fifth in the league. Plugging Green into the line next to Taylor Lewan would be the move to help extend Derrick Henry's career and get Tannehill back to the comfort level he showed in 2020.
Needs: WR, G, C, ED
#27 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Travis Jones (DT, UCONN 6'4" 325)
The team does not have many current needs but has relied on veteran stop gap players in this role, while Jones could improve long term. Jones excelled in the Senior Bowl and is the type of player who can absorb blocks and keep linebackers clean. His presence would help ease the load on Vita Vea and shore up a run defense that regressed, allowing 4.3 yards per attempt compared to 3.6 in their Super Bowl-winning 2020 season.
Needs: G, C, DL
#28 - Green Bay Packers - Christian Watson (WR, North Dakota St 6'4" 208)
The Packers double down on wide receiver, grabbing Watson to complement the earlier selection of Moore. Watson posted the highest RAS of any wide receiver in the class with a 9.96 and a 4.36 vertical. Historically rookies have taken time to warm up under Aaron Rodgers. Still, entering his age-39 season, the team would see pressure and urgency to develop talents ready to contribute in the playoffs.
Fantasy Aspect: This situation would create a very crowded room along with Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins, Cobb, and Amari Rodgers. Lazard has the longest tenure, but both Watson and Moore are athletes on a different level. Every Packers wide receiver is worth a late dart throw in a draft until clarity on the situation arrives. But, outside of Lazard and potentially Rodgers, the rookies should prioritize.
Needs: WR, OL
#29 - Kansas City Chiefs - George Karlaftis (Edge, Purdue, 6'4" 275)
Karlaftis is a difficult player to peg. He is a plus athlete who posted a solid 9.21 RAS, but there are questions about his ability to rush the passer, and 4.5 sacks in 2021 was a pedestrian number. Still, the athleticism and strength for the position are difficult to ignore. The defensive line stands as a need for the Chiefs as the team needs to get deeper beside standout Chris Jones and Frank Clark. Karlaftis should stand as a solid run defender for a defense that allowed the second-highest yards per carry at 4.8.
Needs: WR, DL, CB
#30 - Kansas City Chiefs - Kaiir Elam (CB, Florida, 6'1" 193)
Ja'Marr Chase's 266-yard explosion in week 17 exemplifies how exploitable the secondary proved during the season. The team lost Tyrann Mathieu from a defense that allowed the most yards after the catch in the league. As a topper, the AFC West has turned into an arms race as Russell Wilson and Davante Adams have joined the division. Elam is a long defender who can develop to handle physical wide receivers on the Chiefs' schedule between Mike Williams, Courtland Sutton, and Adams in the division.
Needs: WR, DL, CB
#31 - Cincinnati Bengals - Tyler Linderbaum (C, Iowa 6'3" 291)
The Bengals have focused heavily on the offensive line, adding La'el Collins, Alex Cappa, and Ted Karras. Linderbaum would complete that overhaul and give a centerpiece to compliment Joe Burrow long-term. Linderbaum won the Rimmington, awarded to the nation's best center, and is another in a long line of polished and pro-ready lineman from Iowa.
#32 - Detroit Lions - Desmond Ridder (Quarterback, Cincinnati 6'3" 207)
A four-year starter and Cincinnati, Ridder has taken significant reps in high-profile games like the College Football Playoff against Alabama and the Sugar Bowl against Georgia and Notre Dame. A plus athlete who ran 4.52 40 and shined at the Senior Bowl, it is curious he needed to progress to the point of a late riser in the draft process. As the draft has gotten closer, his name has come up with the most buzz, with links to Pittsburgh and a visit with Seattle.
He does not possess the same arm talent as Willis or Matt Corral. But he is experienced, and his athleticism lends him well to the NFL. Dan Campbell sat front row for the twilight of Drew Brees's career, so understanding top-end limitations are fundamental. Ridder provides leadership to a team still searching for identity following the trade of Matthew Stafford.
Fantasy Aspect: Ridder has the rush ability fantasy players crave, and selection in the first round illustrates the teams' commitment. He is an excellent value in dynasty Superflex formats currently.
Needs: QB, LB, DB
Buffalo Bills: George Pickens (WR) / Trey McBride (TE) / Coby Bryant (CB)
The team spent their first two picks on weapons for Josh Allen. At first glance, McBride in the second could seem steep with Dawson Knox and OJ Howard on the roster. However, Knox is entering a free-agent season and just started showing glances of his potential. Adding McBride gives the team a fallback on potential free agency. It allows the team to play 12 personnel packages, an element completely absent from their 2021 personnel groupings but growing in popularity. Bryant fills a need at the corner with the departure of Levi Wallace. The 2021 Thorpe Award winner has the length to play in the Bills' zone-heavy scheme.
Miami Dolphins: Cole Strange (G)
Right guard is a weak point for the Dolphins as 2020 1st round pick Austin Jackson has struggled to find a place to fit on the line. Strange is an older prospect, having spent six years in college, but brings a nasty demeanor and would solidify the line for coach Mike McDaniel's rich run-based scheme.
New England Patriots: Dax Hill (DB) / Darian Kennard (OL) / Cameron Thomas (Edge)
The Patriots spend this draft filing holes for departed players: Dax Hill for J.C. Jackson, Darian Kennard (a big guard/tackle) for Shaq Mason, and Cameron Thomas for Chase Winovich. The team has already addressed some needs, with Devante Parker rounding out the wide receiver room and Mack Wilson providing some athleticism at middle linebacker.
New York Jets: Sauce Gardner (CB) / Jameson Williams (WR) / Breece Hall (RB) / David Ojabo (Edge) / Drake Jackson (Edge)
The Jets walk out of this draft with a haul. Breece Hall is a luxury, but he pairs with Michael Carter for a dual-headed backfield to help grow Zach Wilson. Ojabo is a risk, a player who could have gone top 10 before tearing his Achilles. The Jets are familiar with the rehab as edge Carl Lawson suffered the same injury in the preseason. Drake Jackson rounds out the class, giving the team another body to round out the rotation as Lawson and Ojabo recover.
Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Davis (DT) / Kyler Gordon (CB) / Troy Anderson (LB) / Tyler Allgeier (RB)
Baltimore's defense fell off hard from their usual standard of excellence, placing 18th with 23.1 points per game. Kyler Gordon is a gamer, a corner unafraid of contact who can help cover Marcus Peters recover from a torn ACL and also contribute at nickel. Troy Anderson is one of the most fun draft stories; he played both quarterback and running back in college before transitioning to linebacker. He adds needed athleticism to the middle of the defense as a workout freak. Allgeier is the pick to raise fantasy eyebrows. A big back who can work in a committee and take over Gus Edwards's role in the long term.
Cincinnati Bengals: Tyler Linderbaum (C) / Nik Bonitto (Edge) / Marcus Jones (CB)
This draft focus is winning playoff shootout games. Linderbaum is the capstone of an offensive line rebuild. Bonitto is a pass-rushing specialist who lands on the lighter side but fills a needed role. Marcus Jones is a dynamic returner, a need on the Bengals roster. He lacks the size the Bengals typically look for in the corner, but he has versatility both inside and outside to earn a role.
Cleveland Browns: Logan Hall (Edge) / John Metchie (WR) / John Ridgeway (DT)
The Browns have long sought a genuine compliment to Myles Garrett, and Logan Hall is the type of athlete the team targets. Hall can play both inside and outside and should stand up well to the run opposite Garrett. Ridgeway is a plugger on the defensive line and addresses a need. For fantasy football, Metchie would stand as an exciting pick. He could work out of the slot with Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Anthony Schwartz, primarily working outside to stretch the field. With Deshaun Watson running the offense, he could be a quiet pick to emerge as this year's answer to Amon-Ra St. Brown as a later drafted wide receiver who steps into production.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Malik Willis (QB) / Abraham Lucas (T) / Khalil Shakir (WR)
The team spent this portion of the draft addressing offensive needs. Malik Willis transforms the face of the offense. Lucas likely lacks the footwork to play the left side, but his massive frame and four years of experience could quickly see him step into a right tackle role. Shakir is a dynamic athlete best suited to start in the slot. He is a classic Steelers wide receiver and fills the departure of Juju Smith-Schuster.
Houston Texans: Evan Neal (T) / Garrett Wilson (WR) / Arnold Ebiketie (Edge) / Channing Tindall (LB) / Sean Rhyan (OL)
This offseason saw a stated commitment to Davis Mills as the future quarterback, and the team executed early. Neal and Wilson are premier offensive additions. Rhyan was a college offensive tackle best suited to transition to guard, where the Texans could use upgrades on both sides. Ebiketie gives the defense an edge they can pair opposite Johnathan Greenard. Tindall is a fast, seek-and-destroy linebacker who could work his way into any linebacker role on this team.
Indianapolis Colts: Kenny Pickett (QB) / Josh Paschal (Edge)
After patching together veteran starters, the Colts take a swing on a potential franchise quarterback. Pickett has been a name to watch the entire predraft process and could go as high as sixth to the Panthers or find a floor in this range. The Colts are a nice landing spot for Pickett, he would have a chance to sit and learn behind Matt Ryan, and when he eventually got his opportunity, he would have a strong run game to lean on. Paschal adds depth to an edge rotation the team has rebuilt with Kwity Paye and Yannick Ngakoue. He is a high-character player who was a leader at Kentucky after returning from a successful battle with cancer.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Aidan Hutchinson (Edge) / Nakobe Dean (LB) / Cam Jurgens (OL) / Cam Taylor-Britt (CB)
The Jaguars lay the groundwork for a franchise overhaul with this draft. Hutchinson combines with Josh Allen to give the Jaguars a pair of explosive pass rushers the team can move around formation. Dean strengthens the backbone of the defense after the team saw Myles Jack depart. His versatility as a linebacker and pass rush instincts give another threat. Jurgens is a polished center prospect who could hear his name much higher than this landing spot; he would be a day one starter and solidify the inside next to free-agent addition Bradon Scherff. Cam Taylor-Britt can play in both man and zone schemes and brings physicality to the position. He would compliment Shaquill Griffin well.
Tennessee Titans: Kenyan Green (G) / Carson Strong (QB)
After fortifying their offensive line in round one, the Titans take a swing on a long-term quarterback project. Ryan Tannehill struggled in 2021, his QBR slipping closer to Miami levels. Entering his age 34 season, the team does not need to think about moving on quite yet, but with the accumulating physical toll adding a young backup with upside is a safe move. Strong has questions about his ability to take coaching and concerning injury history, but he might be the most natural passer in this quarterback class.
Denver Broncos: Phidarian Mathis (DL) / Jelani Woods (TE) / Brian Asamoah (LB)
The Broncos add depth pieces in this draft, having given up earlier picks in the Russell Wilson trade. Mathis makes up for the loss of Shelby Harris in the Wilson deal, adding a rotational defensive lineman with the upside to grow into more. Woods replaces the departing Noah Fant to give depth behind Albert Okwuegbunam. He is one of the most intriguing athletes in the class, scoring a perfect 10 in relative athletic score. The athleticism presents a vertical threat in the seam and allows the team to run 12 personnel packages, a formation Green Bay ran the second-most in the league at 29% under new coach Nathaniel Hackett. Asamoah provides depth at linebacker; he is an undersized player but possesses the speed to cover and tackles well upon arrival.
Kansas City Chiefs: George Karlaftis (Edge) / Kaiir Elam (CB) / Jahan Dotson (WR) / Christian Harris (LB) / Dameon Pierce (RB) / Myjai Sanders (Edge)
The Chiefs use the proceeds from trading Tyreek Hill to give their roster a badly needed infusion of young talent. Dotson can work inside and out and would provide a valuable capstone to a wide receiver rebuild that has seen Juju Smith-Schuster's additions and Marquez Valdes-Scantling's additions, giving Patrick Mahomes II potentially his deepest group of wide receivers. Harris and Sanders bring speed to a defense continually forced to play in shootouts in the playoffs, given the team's offensive potential. Pierce is a physical presence the team needs to add to punish defenses for playing in two high safety shell looks. He has the potential to turn into a true bellcow for fantasy football in this offense.
Las Vegas Raiders: Chad Muma (LB)
The Raiders add a light class with only one pick in the first two days following the Davante Adams trade. Muma is likely a steal in the middle of round three; he is an explosive linebacker with good instincts, and he helps a unit that badly needs an infusion of youth.
Los Angeles Chargers: Chris Olave (WR) / Tariq Woolen (CB)
The team adds to the defensive side after adding Olave in the first to compete in the arms race. Woolen is a long, fast corner that needs time to develop but has unteachable physical traits like 4.26 speed.
Dallas Cowboys: Treylon Burks (WR) / DeMarvin Leal (DT) / Jeremy Ruckert (TE)
The quintessential Cowboys draft. After taking a big wide receiver from Arkansas in round one, the Cowboys follow up by selecting a gifted defensive tackle with some off-the-field questions. Leal has the talent to go much higher in the draft if not for a December arrest for marijuana possession. The defense needs an infusion of pass rush up the middle, and his talent at this spot is worth a minor off-field transgression. Ruckert is an underrated pass catcher as a high school wide receiver but did not often use that skill in college. He provides solid depth behind Dalton Schultz and can grow into a starter role.
New York Giants: Ikem Ekwonu (T) / Jermaine Johnson (Edge) / Boye Mafe (Edge) / Jamarre Sayler (OL) / Greg Dulcich (TE)
The Giants' new brain trust sets the tone for rebuilding with a meat and potatoes draft. Adding Johnson and Mafe dramatically upgrades the team's pass rush and potentially gives bookend edges. Sayler solidifies an offensive line rebuild and has a close relationship with left tackle Andrew Thomas from playing together at Georgia. Dulcich is a natural pass catcher at tight end and can be compared favorably to Dawson Knox in Brian Daboll's offensive scheme.
Philadelphia Eagles: Trent McDuffie (CB) / Devin Lloyd (LB) / Jaquon Brisker (S) / Alec Pierce (WR) / Dohnovan West (OL)
After adding defensive playmakers in the first round, the Eagles round out the talent infusion with Brisker. Able to play either safety position, he adds needed youth to the back end after the team lost Rodney McLeod. Pierce is a bit of a project at wide receiver but can stretch the field and adds size to the room. West is a natural fit to take over for Jason Kelce at center in a scheme that requires athleticism out of the position.
Washington Commanders: Kyle Hamilton (S) / Roger McCreary (CB)
With two picks in the first two rounds, the Commanders focus on rebuilding a secondary that allowed the fourth-most passing yards in 2021. McCreary has the talent to go round one and is a sticky coverage corner who would immediately start opposite star, Kendall Fuller. These two additions would go a long way towards allowing a talented defensive line time to create pressure.
Chicago Bears: Bernhard Raimann (T) / Tyler Smith (OL) / Dylan Parham (OL)
The Bears spend all three picks on rebuilding a porous offensive line. Raimann is a converted tight end with excellent footwork but lands on the older side for a top prospect. He and 2021 2nd-round pick Teven Jenkins can work to find the best spot for each on the left or right side of the line. Tyler Smith has the talent and buzz to land in the back half of the first and would be a boon here in the mid-second. He is a project but has the power to play as a high upside guard. Parham finishes the overhaul and projects as a center with the quickness to pull from the position. If three out of these picks and Jenkins hits, the Bears will have smashed an offensive line rebuild to finally give Justin Fields a chance to fulfill the long-time franchise quarterback need.
Detroit Lions: Kayvon Thibodeaux (Edge) / Desmond Ridder (QB) / Andrew Booth Jr. (CB) / Devonte Wyatt (DL) / David Bell (WR)
Using the Matthew Stafford trade haul, the Lions can address prominent franchise cornerstone positions throughout the draft. Booth has the talent to be the top corner in the class but has seen his predraft process hampered by injuries. Adding him can help Okudah reach his potential or position him for a shift to safety. Wyatt is the elephant in the room. A past domestic arrest from 2020 surfaced and has cast a significant shadow on his draft stock. He has the talent to go round one but placing him at this point is difficult. Bell rounds out a wide receiver overhaul. There are questions if his athleticism will allow him to play outside, but he is a gifted natural receiver who could fit in a room with Amon-Ra St. Brown and DJ Chark.
Green Bay Packers: Skyy Moore (WR) / Christian Watson (WR) / Quay Walker (LB) / Daniel Faalele (T) / Bryan Cook (S)
The team gave the receiver room an infusion of talent in round one and followed it up with addressing needs through the roster. Walker is a gifted linebacker who would round out one of the more talented groups in the league; he is exceptional against the run and has the athleticism of a true centerpiece. Faalele is one of the most enormous tackles in the history of the draft, he is a project, but if he realizes his potential, he will serve as a fixture at right tackle. Cook is a striker who adds depth to a safety unit that needs it.
Minnesota Vikings: Derek Stingley Jr (CB) / Perrion Winfrey (DL) / Kingsley Enagbare (Edge)
Undergoing a full-blown defensive overhaul, the Vikings address multiple pass defense concerns. Winfrey is a gap penetrating defensive tackle who earned Senior Bowl MVP honors after a disruptive week at the event. Enable slips a bit after disappointing testing performances. Still, he will serve as solid depth and could lock down a starting spot in a defense that has a looming contract situation with Danielle Hunter.
Atlanta Falcons: Drake London (WR) / Matt Corral (QB) / Jalen Tolbert (WR) / Nicholas Petit-Frere (T) / Brian Robinson (RB)
The Falcons undergo one of the most dramatic fantasy football facelifts in this draft. London locks in as the top receiver and works well with Kyle Pitts, but Tolbert would also provide a talented addition outside. His path to fantasy production is limited as the third or fourth option in a Marcus Mariota passing offense, but he has a clear opportunity for playing time. Corral is one of the most exciting prospects in the draft. He possesses the arm talent and creativity teams have come to crave out of the position but has faced maturity questions the past several seasons. This spot would grant him time behind Mariota to sit and learn, hoping to step into an offense that welcomes Calvin Ridley back with Pitts and London for 2023. Petit-Frere is a former five-star recruit who started most of his college career with Ohio St but never fully reached his ceiling. The Falcons have the luxury of developing him as a long-term replacement for Jake Matthews. Robinson is one of the biggest banks in the class; he gives the offense a much-needed power element to allow Cordarelle Patterson to return to the more creative usage he saw early in 2021.
Carolina Panthers: Charles Cross (T)
Cross is the Panthers' only pick in the first three rounds.
New Orleans Saints: Trevor Penning (T) / Lewis Cine (S) / Kenneth Walker (RB) / Zyon McCollum (CB)
Addressing two significant needs in the first round, the team swings back on a luxury pick with Walker. Walker may be the best pure running back in the class, and a possible suspension for Alvin Kamara looms after an incident in Las Vegas in February. With both backs in the fold, the Saints can save wear and tear on Kamara, shifting him back to his natural pass-catching role and using Walker as a primary ball carrier. McCollum is one of the most explosive corners in the history of the draft. He was another project pick to rack up a perfect 10 in the relative athletic score.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Travis Jones (DT) / Isaiah Spiller (RB) / Marquis Hayes (G)
The Buccaneers do not possess many needs, but a long-term back who can work with Leonard Fournette and develop as a replacement would round out the offense nicely. Spiller had a painful testing period, but he was immediately productive in the SEC and showed as a natural receiver. He could quickly serve in the passing back role if he earns Tom Brady's trust. Hayes adds depth to the interior of the offensive line that offset Alex Cappa's loss with Shaq Mason's addition but could still use long-term reserves.
Arizona Cardinals: Zion Johnson (G) / Jalen Pitre (DB) / James Cook (RB)
After shoring up their offensive line, the Cardinals work on improving both sides of their passing game. Pitre is a versatile defensive back, a trait the Cardinals crave in their defensive scheme. He can work as nickel or safety and potentially play outside in a pinch. The team needs to address the defensive back room at multiple picks. This spot may be aspirational for Cook, but he is one of the best pass-catching backs in the class and could see creative offensive usage in the scheme that frequently runs spread formations. He steps into Chase Edmonds' vacated role with a higher ceiling at the position for fantasy football.
Las Angeles Rams: Nick Cross (S)
We all know the Rams' feelings about picks, and they only have one in the first two days. Cross is a fast safety that brings a level of athleticism (4.34 40) to the position that Taylor Rapp can only dream of achieving.
San Francisco 49ers: Calvin Austin (WR) / Sam Williams (Edge) / Luke Fortner (OL)
At the time of writing, a Deebo Samuel standoff exists. His departure would dramatically change the outlook of the 49ers draft. At present, they add Austin, a gifted speedster who could fit well to stretch the field and see usage in one of the most creative run schemes in the league. Williams is another talented pass rusher who has some off-field questions. He would give needed depth to a pass rush rotation opposite Nick Bosa. Fortner was a college center that could also serve as a guard to build interior line depth.
Seattle Seahawks: Travon Walker (Edge) / Sam Howell (QB) / Leo Chanel (LB) / Luke Goedeke (OL)
The Seahawks find themselves at a franchise crossroads with the departures of Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner, the backbone of their offense and defense for most of the past decade. Howell evokes comparisons to Wilson. He is a gifted passer put into a difficult situation on a depleted North Carolina team under the microscope as one of the top quarterback prospects entering 2021. While not a dual-threat quarterback, Howell does possess functional athleticism to escape trouble. Chanel fills the hole Wagner departed; with a 9.99 relative athletic score and instincts, he should run with the opportunity. Goedeke supplies badly needed offensive line depth; he is likely best suited to play inside.
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