2022 NFL Mock Draft: B/R NFL Scouting Dept.'s Predictions Entering AprilApril 1, 2022
2022 NFL Mock Draft: B/R NFL Scouting Dept.'s Predictions Entering April
- This projection doesn't include trades, thus certain players may slide further down the board than expected based on current slotting.
- Pairings are primarily based on what B/R's Scouting Department feels each team will do, not necessarily where the scouts believe each should be drafted based on grade.
Spring signifies renewal. For the NFL, the changing of the season brings a fresh crop of incoming talent courtesy of the draft.
This year's event will be held from April 28 to 30 in Las Vegas at Allegiant Stadium. Now less than a month away from teams going on the clock to define their respective futures, the approach to projections change.
All-star festivities and the NFL combine brought different viewpoints on how teams are looking at the available prospects. Bleacher Report's Scouting Department of Brandon Thorn, Brent Sobleski, Cory Giddings, Derrik Klassen and Nate Tice pieced together what they believe will happen when the draft opens for business later this month.
Two important factors must be considered for this particular mock draft:
In a suspect class with no clear-cut front-runner for the top overall talent, this latest four-round edition starts with a bang since two of the biggest boom-or-bust prospects in the class can be found among the first three selections.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Edge Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
Aidan Hutchinson Scouting Report
The Jacksonville Jaguars spent heavily in free agency to upgrade a roster in drastic need of fortifications after posting the NFL's worst record in back-to-back years.
Last year, the franchise acquired its primary building block, quarterback Trevor Lawrence, with the No. 1 overall pick. This year, general manager Trent Baalke and head coach Doug Pederson could go in a myriad of directions since there is no clear-cut top option.
Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson is the safest pick, and he'd provide reinforcements to another premium position.
"Hutchinson would give the Jaguars a nasty pairing alongside Josh Allen," Klassen said. "Whereas Allen is more of a speed-rusher around the edge, Hutchinson brings a different flavor. Hutchinson wins with power, quickness and high-level hand usage. His outstanding agility drills at the NFL combine suggest he has more bend than he put on tape, too.
"The reigning Lombardi Award winner will also enter the league as a stout run defender. He does well to set the edge and take on blocks, as well as slip through into the backfield for tackles for loss. In Jacksonville's new-look defense, Hutchinson should be an impact player right away."
2. Detroit Lions: QB Malik Willis, Liberty
The Detroit Lions might as well go big with this year's second overall pick in an attempt to turn around the organization's longtime futility.
"Lions take a home-run swing early and go with Willis as their quarterback of the future," Tice said. "Willis is a toolsy prospect with a big arm and the ability to create with his legs. But he ran a simplistic offense and will take time to adjust to the NFL level. The Lions, meanwhile, are still in the middle of a rebuild and have Jared Goff as a starter. So they will be able to bring the rookie along at whatever pace they choose."
While Willis is a highly volatile selection this high in the process due to his boom-or-bust potential, the situation is perfect for him to develop properly.
As Tice noted, Willis won't be rushed into the lineup. Goff is a viable starter, albeit among the league's lower tier. The Liberty product will need time to adjust to a professional playbook and what's asked of a quarterback at the highest level. Willis' athletic traits and huge arm are special. At the same time, he's further behind on the developmental curve than most because of what was asked of him at the collegiate level.
The Lions will bank on the quarterback's potential, bring him along slowly and possibly field an eventual difference-maker at the game's most important position.
3. Houston Texans: Edge Travon Walker, Georgia
No prospect has prospered more than Georgia's Travon Walker since the 2021 campaign ended. He has shot up boards thanks to rare physical tools. In fact, his relative athletic scored ranked third among defensive ends since 1987, according to Pro Football Network's Kent Lee Platte.
On tape, the flashes are clearly present with Walker serving as one of the most violent defensive players in the entire class.
However, Walker primarily served as an interior player for the Bulldogs instead of a true edge defender. His evaluation as a pass-rusher is almost purely a projection.
"Walker may not be a ready-made prospect, but for a team as far away as Houston, that is fine," Klassen said. "Walker, who should be viewed as a hybrid defender, is an elite athlete at 6'5" and 272 pounds. He has the length (35½" arms) and strength to handle blockers in the run game, as well as the speed and ease of movement to make plays in space and in the backfield.
"While his pass-rushing skills are limited right now, Walker has all the athletic potential to eventually develop into a good pass-rusher after a year or two. The 21-year-old will walk into the league as a strong run defender and an effective twist/stunt piece in the passing game."
4. New York Jets: OT Evan Neal, Alabama
The New York Jets aren't done building their offensive front even after using first-round picks on Mekhi Becton and Alijah Vera-Tucker in back-to-back drafts and then spending big on Laken Tomlinson in free agency.
Concerns about Becton's injury history and commitment continue to linger, though the team views him as one of its starting offensive tackles.
Alabama's Evan Neal is in the conversation for the first overall pick, which makes him as excellent value at this juncture.
"Neal's addition would give the team arguably the best offensive lineman in the draft, insurance for Becton's availability and a player with proven versatility at both tackle spots," Thorn said. "Neal has prototypical size (6'7½", 337 lbs) with very good play speed and smooth footwork and brings power in the run game.
"The 21-year-old consensus All-American is also a three-year starter and battle-tested in the SEC at three different positions. Neal's presence would give the Jets a top-15 line on paper with the talent in place to rise as a unit over time while providing quarterback Zach Wilson with the infrastructure to make plays."
Just the thought of the massive Becton and Neal serving as a twin set of offensive tackles should send shivers down defenders' spines.
5. New York Giants: Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
Kayvon Thibodeaux Scouting Report
Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux is this year's primary candidate to be picked apart throughout the predraft process.
Questions about his effort and commitment to the game arose this offseason. Whether those concerns are real or just a smokescreen to cause an elite talent to slide down the board isn't known. However, Thibodeaux's talent is blatantly obvious.
"The Giants would be making a mistake to let Thibodeaux slip past them," Klassen said. "Once the presumptive first overall pick, Thibodeaux brings the best blend of speed, power and bend in the class. The reps wherein Thibodeaux puts everything together are the most impressive in the class.
"Right now, Thibodeaux's hand usage needs to become more refined and he could stand to be a sharper run defender, but he will be ready to go as an impact player immediately. Moreover, Thibodeaux's explosive pass-rushing skill set is a great pair with Azeez Ojulari's quick, finesse pass-rush style and top-tier run defense skills."
The unanimous All-American should be in the conversation for the No. 1 overall pick. His skill set as an edge-rusher demands such attention. Instead, he slides slightly to the Giants' benefit.
6. Carolina Panthers: OT Ikem Ekwonu, North Carolina State
The Carolina Panthers have done a nice job reworking their front five, though a key component remains unfulfilled.
With Taylor Moton at right tackle and some combination of Austin Corbett, Bradley Bozeman and Brady Christensen set to start along the interior, left tackle remains the roster's most glaring hole beyond the quarterback position.
North Carolina State's Ikem Ekwonu is the necessary tone-setter to complete the transition.
"A good way of describing Ekwonu's allure as a prospect is that what he brings as a run-blocker is better than what any other offensive lineman in the class brings as a run- or pass-blocker," Thorn said. "Despite being three inches shorter than Alabama's Evan Neal, Ekwonu has a longer wingspan (84¼") with rare explosive power on a stout, compact build that results in mind-bending finishes in the run game.
"The risk comes in Ekwonu's variance as a pass protector due to unrefined set points and strike timing that Carolina would need to be smart about designing its offense around. If the Panthers deploy a scheme centered around heavy play-action, quick game and/or moving the launch point of the quarterback, Ekwonu can play a more physical brand of football that better suits his playing style."
7. New York Giants (from Chicago): OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State
Interest from the New York Giants in Mississippi State's Charles Cross is "very, very real," according to WCBI News' Jon Sokoloff. Offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, offensive line coach Bobby Johnson and assistant offensive line coach Tony Sparano Jr. attended the Bulldogs' pro day.
The Giants contingent saw Cross work some at right tackle despite being a career blindside protector.
"New York would be getting a high-upside tackle in Cross who is a better run-blocker than given credit for despite coming from an Air Raid scheme at Mississippi State," Thorn said. "Cross could slot in at left tackle while Andrew Thomas moves to the right side or vice versa. The Giants have a major need on the right side, and Cross would give them options to solidify that spot.
"Cross will have a steeper adjustment than the prior two tackles in terms of the rush angles and alignments he will see as a pass protector but displays the body control, balance and athletic ability to bridge that gap over time to become a high-end starter for them."
For the Giants to properly evaluate their skill-position performers, the offensive line must play better. Cross easily upgrades the unit's overall talent level.
8. Atlanta Falcons: WR Drake London, USC
Quite simply, the Atlanta Falcons could go in any direction because they feature arguably the league's worst roster.
"The Falcons have holes all over their roster and the Matt Ryan trade signals a new path for the franchise," Tice noted. "USC's Drake London has basketball size (6'4", 219 lbs), inside-outside capabilities and outstanding catching range. He would provide the Falcons another potential mismatch in the passing game to pair with tight end Kyle Pitts that would give defenses headaches for years."
It's a rather simple choice. The Falcons could take a swing on the next-best quarterback prospect with Malik Willis already off the board. The Ryan trade certainly changed the entire dynamic for the franchise. Or Atlanta could build the best possible cockpit for Marcus Mariota and see if the 2015 second overall pick can be anything more than a bridge to the team's next quarterback.
The latter is a more tempting pathway since the Falcons have their choice of wide receivers with London giving them another young (20), dynamic target. If Mariota doesn't work out, the organization can revisit the quarterback position next offseason.
9. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver): QB Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
Desmond Ridder Scouting Report
The 2022 campaign could be rough for the Seattle Seahawks, particularly head coach Pete Carroll. Carroll built a culture of constantly competing in every facet.
However, the franchise is currently at a distinct disadvantage after trading quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos. Drew Lock came back as part of the deal. General manager John Schneider told reporters the team has "a ton of faith in Drew." Oh sure, sure.
Assuming the Seahawks try to upgrade at quarterback, Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder presents the class' best combination of athletic traits and play from the pocket.
"Ridder improved tremendously during the 2021 season and ended up the most pro-ready quarterback of this class," Tice said. "He has the arm strength to drive the ball and handled true dropback concepts in college time and again. He can start early for a Seahawks team that is trying to navigate a post-Wilson world."
Maybe the Falcons don't take a chance on Ridder one pick sooner because they're just now entering the teardown stage of their rebuild and quarterback isn't necessarily the best value. Carroll refused to acknowledge Seattle is rebuilding, rather the organization is "putting [the] team together again." The process starts at quarterback.
10. New York Jets (from Seattle): Edge George Karlaftis, Purdue
George Karlaftis Scouting Report
The New York Jets have invested plenty into their pass rush. Carl Lawson signed a massive free-agent deal last offseason, and John Franklin-Myers inked a contract extension.
So what? Those previous expenditures shouldn't prevent the organization from boosting its ability to disrupt offenses. Besides, Lawson is returning from a torn Achilles tendon, and the unit lacks rotational pieces.
Purdue's George Karlaftis brings a different skill set compared to what's already on the roster.
"Karlaftis is the kind of presence the Jets need opposite Carl Lawson," Klassen said. "At 6'4" and 266 pounds, the first-team All-Big Ten performer brings a ton of explosive potential and strength off the edge. He flies off the ball for a guy his size and consistently overwhelms blockers in both phases of the game.
"Moreover, Karlaftis has a handful of crafty ways to win with his hands and keep offensive tackles uneasy on pass-rushing reps. Though Karlaftis is not the bendiest prospect, he checks enough boxes elsewhere to be a high-quality NFL starter."
With Karlaftis, Lawson, Franklin-Myers, Sheldon Rankins and Quinnen Williams, the Jets should be able to hound opposing quarterbacks.
11. Washington Commanders: S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
Whether or not Carson Wentz actually helps the team, the Washington Commanders no longer have to worry about a quarterback (at least for this year).
From there, the defense needs fixes after falling apart last season. Washington went from being the league's second-best defense in 2020 to 22nd last season. Notre Dame's Kyle Hamilton is arguably the best defensive player in the class despite his positional value.
"Hamilton is a rare individual with the size of a linebacker (6'4", 220 lbs) and the skill set of a defensive back," Giddings said. "Although he ran on the slower end at his pro day with a 4.70-second effort, he is still an elite athlete that can be used in many different ways.
"The consensus All-American presents the movement ability to match up against tight ends in the pass game, as well as the size and physicality to play in the box. He adds the flexibility to play both free and strong safety. As such, Hamilton will instantly give the Commanders defense a boost."
Three years ago, Washington signed Landon Collins to a market-shattering free-agent deal. The veteran safety/linebacker is no longer with the team. Instead, the Commanders can draft Hamilton and get the player they wanted all along.
12. Minnesota Vikings: CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU
Derek Stingley Jr. Scouting Report
A selection of another cornerback with this year's first-round pick might have Minnesota Vikings' faithful groaning a little bit. After all, the organization drafted four first-round cornerbacks in the last nine draft classes. None of them are still with the team.
"Stingley is just the type of cornerback Mike Zimmer would have wanted," Giddings quipped. "Even though Zimmer isn't the head coach anymore, an athletic lockdown cornerback is a necessity in today's NFL.
"The once-heralded freshman has the ability to match receivers downfield while also tracking and attacking the ball in air. His production regressed this past season because he played in only three games because of a foot injury. Even so, Stingley still showed the desired skill needed for the cornerback position."
The Vikings did re-sign Patrick Peterson, but the soon-to-be 32-year-old veteran is merely a short-term stopgap. If anything, his retention should be viewed as more reason to select Stingley. The rookie could learn from one of the best ever and another LSU alum before being thrust into primary coverage responsibilities.
Some risk exists because of Stingley's injury history. But the 20-year-old prospect presents as much upside as any defensive player in the class.
13. Houston Texans (from Cleveland): CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati
The Houston Texans need help everywhere. Even so, the addition of a top talent at a premium position with the 13th overall pick is the best possible outcome for a team on the mend.
"Ahmad 'Sauce' Gardner is a top-tier athlete who posted a phenomenal career at Cincinnati," Giddings said. "He was able to shut down all competition while playing both man and zone coverage.
"As a cornerback with ideal length (33½" arms), he also ran in the low 4.4s, thus helping to solidify his elite athletic ability as seen on tape. Gardner will bring instant help to the Texans' cornerback room as a likely immediate starter."
How good was the consensus All-American and AAC Defensive Player of the Year during his Bearcats career?
Gardner played 1,059 coverage snaps and didn't allow a single touchdown, according to Pro Football Focus. He allowed a career 32.6 quarterback rating into his coverage, which is a lower rating than a quarterback would have intentionally throwing every pass as an incompletion.
It shouldn't matter who's on the roster when a cornerback of that level is available. In the Texans' case, Gardner is a massive upgrade over Desmond King II, Lonnie Johnson Jr., Tavierre Thomas and Co.
14. Baltimore Ravens: DL Jordan Davis, Georgia
The Baltimore Ravens have a knack for letting the draft come to them and consistently selecting top talents.
In this case, Georgia's Jordan Davis is just sitting there because nose tackles—even elite athletes at the position, as Davis is—aren't as highly valued as other positions.
The Ravens are looking to fortify their defensive front with Brandon Williams and Calais Campbell still weighing their free-agent options.
"Baltimore did bring back Michael Pierce this offseason, but that alone does not fix the team's hole at the position, nor should a player of Pierce's caliber dissuade a team from a special prospect like Davis," Klassen said.
"A 341-pound behemoth, Davis slots right in for Williams in Baltimore's defense. Davis's size, length (34" arms) and overwhelming play strength make him the space-eater he is billed to be. But that's not where it ends with him. Davis has excellent get-off and range for a defensive tackle not just for his size but any player at his position."
Davis will help Baltimore create a wall of humanity along its defensive front. The Outland Trophy winner is capable of aligning in multiple spots, but he's a legitimate difference-maker lining up over opposing centers.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami): WR Chris Olave, Ohio State
A first-round wide receiver in three straight draft classes may seem like overkill by the Philadelphia Eagles. However, Jalen Reagor hasn't developed as expected.
Also, the team is still building around quarterback Jalen Hurts. Part of that process is adding the best possible skill-position players.
"Ohio State's Chris Olave is the most polished receiver in this class and would hit the ground running immediately for the Eagles," Tice said. "He is an outstanding route-runner at all three levels with very good athleticism and ball skills. A pair of Olave with DeVonta Smith would give the Eagles one of the NFL's most exciting wide receiver duos and make it difficult for defenses to account for on a snap-to-snap basis."
The Eagles own a trio of first-round picks. They have the assets to go in any direction.
So the idea of adding more offensive firepower, even after doing so in the previous two drafts, shouldn't be viewed as a surprise. Olave left the decorated Buckeyes program fifth in career receiving yards. He gives the unit yet another option to improve upon last season's 25th-ranked passing attack.
16. Philadelphia Eagles (from Indianapolis): DL Devonte Wyatt, Georgia
The defensive line has been a longstanding priority for Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman. The organization loves to invest in the position and capitalize on the the depth the unit usually provides.
While still true, the current setup is a little different in that a couple of key pieces are getting older and the team re-signed Derek Barnett despite four middling years with the franchise.
To the earlier point, Roseman already released Fletcher Cox and brought him back on a short-term deal. Cox turns 32 later this year. The soon-to-be 34-year-old Brandon Graham is even further along in his career. Yes, the position group still features Josh Sweat, Javon Hargrave and Milton Williams. But another young, talented defender shouldn't be overlooked.
"Georgia's Wyatt is the perfect understudy/running mate for Cox," Klassen said. "At 6'3" and 304 pounds, Wyatt is an energetic, explosive wrecking ball in the middle. He has an excellent first step and plays with plenty of power behind his pads, as both a run and pass defender. Wyatt could feasibly play anywhere from nose to over the tackles, thus sharing some of the same versatility Cox had at his best."
17. Los Angeles Chargers: WR Jameson Williams, Alabama
Jameson Williams Scouting Report
The Los Angeles Chargers already put together a fantastic offseason with the additions of Khalil Mack, J.C. Jackson, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Johnson and Gerald Everett. They also re-signed wide receiver Mike Williams to a three-year, $60 million contract.
The possibility of adding the most explosive weapon in the entire class to an offense that already features Williams and Keenan Allen is simply mouthwatering. Alabama's Jameson Williams may have been the first wide receiver selected this year if he didn't suffer a torn ACL in the national championship game. He brings elite speed to an offense.
"Once healthy, Williams would open up the entire field for the Chargers offense," Tice said. "Williams has more polish to his game than just sprinter's speed, too. He's a good route-runner with excellent body control and knows how to tempo his speeds to create separation. Plus, Williams' home run speed paired up with Justin Herbert's arm could lead to some really fun weekly highlights."
The Chargers would easily claim the AFC West's most explosive offense with Williams' addition.
18. New Orleans Saints: WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
Garrett Wilson Scouting Report
The New Orleans Saints finally settled on Jameis Winston as their starting quarterback this fall. Winston signed a two-year, $28 million deal to rejoin the team. Taysom Hill, meanwhile, will now concentrate on playing tight end.
"With Jameis Winston back in the fold, the Saints can now turn their focus to giving him some pass-catchers to work with," Tice said. "Ohio State's Garrett Wilson is dynamic with the ball in his hands and would give the Saints offense more creativity than it has had the past few seasons. Wilson still has some room for growth with his route running and play strength, which makes his upside one of the highest in the class."
The Saints featured the league's worst passing attack last season. A combination of injuries to Winston and Michael Thomas and a lack of depth among the team's weapons really hamstrung the offense.
Thomas is now healthy and seemingly back on the same page with the organization. The Saints re-signed Tre'Quan Smith as well. Wilson adds another dimension to the passing game as a creative playmaker in space. Pete Carmichael, who is taking over play-calling duties for Sean Payton, should be able to get the Saints' aerial attack back on track with these weapons.
19. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Kaiir Elam, Florida
With their third and final pick of the first round, the Philadelphia Eagles finally address the back end of their defense.
Darius Slay, Avonte Maddox and Zech McPhearson form a capable and feisty trio. But the latter two aren't best served playing outside corner. Both are sub-6'0", 195-pound cornerbacks who will battle bigger targets but they're better served playing over the slot.
Florida's Kaiir Elam is the exact opposite.
"Elam is a long cornerback with excellent size (6'1½" with 30⅞" arms). He has the strength to match up against bigger receivers, as well as the movement skills to match and run with some of the faster receivers," Giddings said. "He did a good job of showing his ball skills, along with his ability to react to what he sees. As a cornerback who shows up in the running game, Elam would give the Eagles secondary a boost of youth and physicality."
The second-team All-SEC performer also presents more than enough speed with a 4.39-second 40-yard dash to turn and run with most receivers. Elam opposite Slay with Maddox and McPhearson thrown into the mix would give the Eagles a multidimensional cornerback group.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa
Trevor Penning Scouting Report
The Pittsburgh Steelers must decide whether they're all-in with Mitchell Trubisky this year or want to find a developmental quarterback option early in the draft to hedge the franchise's bet at the game's most important position.
At this juncture, Bleacher Report's two highest-rated quarterbacks are off the board. The front office could still take a swing on Pitt's Kenny Pickett or take a lineman with significantly more upside. Northern Iowa's Trevor Penning has elite left tackle potential if his natural ability and attitude are properly harnessed.
"Penning's nasty demeanor and competitive toughness fit the gritty, blue-collar city of Pittsburgh to a tee while providing an upgrade at a critical position," Thorn said. "The Steelers could put Penning at either tackle spot and it would be an improvement.
"Not only would Penning be a tone-setting presence, but his ideal size (6'7", 325 lbs), above-average play-speed and football character bode well for him to make the necessary progress to his unrefined technique. Penning was able to get by playing with adequate leverage and hand usage at Northern Iowa. For him to reach his considerable ceiling as a high-end starter, he will need to clean that area of his game up.
"The Steelers can afford to give him the runway to do that while bringing a much-needed talent to a mediocre offensive line room."
21. New England Patriots: WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas
A year ago, the New England Patriots were the most active team in free agency. As part of their spending spree, they signed wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne to a combined $37 million in total contractual value.
Neither is a bigger target, though. Their games are either built upon speed or creating after the catch.
Arkansas' Treylon Burks is one of the class' most physical targets with his ability to play through tackles, thus adding yards after catch, and beat man-to-man coverage.
"The Patriots needs to add size and vertical ability in their receiver room and would get it with Burks," Tice said. "Burks is a unique prospect in that he lined up mostly in the slot and got touches on gadget plays despite his 6'2", 225-pound frame. But he flashes body control, a vast catch radius and enough play speed to take any play the distance.
"If Burks keeps improving on his route running, the sky is the limit. He would give Patriots quarterback Mac Jones a completely different type of weapon than he had as a rookie."
New England's history of drafting wide receivers is suspect, but Burks is too good of an opportunity to pass up.
22. Green Bay Packers (via Las Vegas): Edge Jermaine Johnson II, Florida State
Jermaine Johnson II Scouting Report
Three years ago, the Green Bay Packers invested a first-round pick in Rashan Gary despite Preston and Za'Darius Smith already being on the roster.
The approach worked. Why not try it again?
"If the Packers want to uphold the three-headed outside linebacker monster they were supposed to have last season, Jermaine Johnson II's selection would be one way to go about it," Klassen said. "The key with drafting Johnson is that he brings a different flavor compared to Green Bay's current pair of Gary and Preston Smith.
"While both are heavier players with skill sets geared toward generating pressure and sacks, Johnson is more of a finesse and hustle pass-rusher. As a run defender, Johnson is a complete terror. His length (34" arms) and strength alone are impressive unto themselves, which doesn't even include excellent vision and technique. Johnson will be a force in run defense right away while working as a nice clean-up pass-rusher."
Last season, the Packers were forced to play without Za'Darius Smith because of a back injury. With the two-time Pro Bowler no longer on the team, Johnson's selection will help Green Bay's defense return to status quo.
23. Arizona Cardinals: CB Trent McDuffie, Washington
Trent McDuffie Scouting Report
The Arizona Cardinals suffered much bigger losses this offseason than any potential additions they could bring into the organization.
Chandler Jones, Christian Kirk and Chase Edmonds are now part of the Las Vegas Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins, respectively. Arizona did re-sign James Conner and Zach Ertz, although the team's incoming free agents are marginal additions at best.
Furthermore, the Cardinals still have glaring problems with their secondary and an aging offensive line. Byron Murphy Jr. and Marco Wilson remain the team's top two corners. More is needed at the position. Washington's Trent McDuffie gives the Cardinals an instant contributor alongside the team's other young cover men.
"McDuffie was an active player for the Washington defense this past year. He showed himself to be an ultra-athletic, smooth athlete with a high IQ and understanding of the position," Giddings said. "Although he lacks length (29¾" arms) and overall size (5'11", 193 lbs), he makes up for it in versatility."
McDuffie can mix and match with the corners already on the roster. Despite his size limitations, he's quite comfortable working outside the numbers. But he can slide over to the slot depending on the situation and coverage demands.
24. Dallas Cowboys: OG Zion Johnson, Boston College
The Dallas Cowboys' success in recent years really began when the team decided to take guard Zack Martin in the first round instead of flashy quarterback Johnny Manziel.
A smart, sensible selection doesn't always sell tickets, but the goal is to put the best product on the field. The team's performance has been uneven ever since, though the Cowboys front has served as a point of pride and the foundation for the entire roster.
Boston College's Zion Johnson can provide a similar stabilizing effect at left guard after Connor Williams' free-agency departure.
"This would be a dream pairing for a team in the Cowboys with unmatched success drafting at the position. With a hole at left guard, they'd get the highest-rated guard, who happens to be most comfortable on the left side," Thorn said. "Johnson has a clean evaluation as a result of extensive experience in a pro-style scheme in addition to consistent film, excellent physical traits and an outstanding offseason at the Senior Bowl and combine.
"Johnson checks the necessary boxes to meet the Cowboys' high standards at the position while keeping their identity as a team anchored by its offensive line intact at least in the short term as it continues to restock talent."
25. Buffalo Bills: WR Jahan Dotson, Penn State
The Buffalo Bills have no problem whatsoever fielding smaller targets at wide receiver.
"I would say with all of our wide receivers, they're kind of like Smurfs," head coach Sean McDermott joked three years ago. "If you've ever watched the Smurfs, they live in like a small village. So they can separate in small spaces."
Three of the team's top four wide receivers—Stefon Diggs, Isaiah McKenzie and Jamison Crowder—are 6'0" or shorter. An electric playmaker like Penn State's Jahan Dotson, who stands 5'11" and weighs 178 pounds, fits right into the team's current mold.
"With Cole Beasley no longer in Buffalo, the Bills add another receiver on the smaller side to their corps," Tice noted. "Dotson is a good route-runner who plays bigger than his size because of his toughness and catching range. He is a dynamic player who can step in right away and contribute. He has enough speed to take the top off of defenses and would give the Bills a terrifying receiver room for defenses to try to offset."
The Bills passing game will ravage the land as never before with total destruction from mountain to shore.
26. Tennessee Titans: LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia
Sometimes, a football player is just a football player and everyone should overlook potential shortcomings. Georgia's Nakobe Dean is a prime example.
Dean left Georgia as the nation's best linebacker and an elite defender. He served as the alpha for the best collegiate defense in recent memory. Yet he stands 5'11" and weighs 229 pounds with 31⅞-inch arms.
Certain organizations won't even have Dean as a first-round talent based on his build, even though he's clearly an exceptional on-field performer. The Tennessee Titans may be an exception.
"The Titans have respectable linebackers, but they do not yet have a star," Klassen said. "Dean could change that status.
"The reigning Butkus Award winner is smaller than his peers at the position, but Tennessee has been starting David Long (5'11", 227 lbs) anyway, so size is not a disqualifying factor. Despite his stature, Dean plays with good strength and stunning contact balance when fighting through traffic. Pair those capabilities with his instant trigger and dangerous sideline-to-sideline speed, and the Titans could have a premier chaos-creator in the box."
Tennessee has taken too many first-round chances as of late. Dean may be undersized, but he's one of the class' most proven talents.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DL Logan Hall, Houston
An offseason full of surprises awaited the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tom Brady retired and then returned quicker than it takes to order avocado ice cream online. His decision created a cascading effect that caused names such as Ryan Jensen and Carlton Davis to return despite robust free-agent markets. Then, head coach Bruce Arians retired and handed the keys to defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.
With Bowles now captaining the ship, the defensive front should be put under the microscope. Potential issues already existed with Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul in free agency, though William Gholston re-signed. An infusion of youth and talent is necessary to keep Bowles' aggressive system chugging along.
"Houston's Logan Hall is a perfect scheme fit to help replace some of the lost talent," Klassen stated. "Hall, who primarily served as a 3-tech who can kick out to wider alignments, is a violent player. Not only does the 6'6", 283-pound defender come off the ball with good power and heavy hands when engaging, but he plays with a nonstop motor, thus making him a complete handful for any blocker.
"Hall will be able to play a little of everything up front, which should go a long way toward keeping a creative defensive scheme."
28. Green Bay Packers: OT Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan
Bernhard Raimann Scouting Report
Everyone knows the Green Bay Packers need wide receiver help. Granted, the team could have used talent upgrades at the position for years, yet ignored it in the first round.
This particular pairing isn't the same operating procedure. The top six wide receivers are already off the board, but the final top-rated offensive tackle remains available.
Central Michigan's Bernhard Raimann is a special athlete just coming into his own at a late stage of his career. He can bump over to right tackle and settle the Packers front five.
"Raimann is a quick learner who showed an incredible grasp of the position on film this year despite it being just the second year of his life playing offensive line," Thorn noted. "Winning with contact balance, body control and quickness, Raimann fits the blueprint for what the Packers have valued most on the line.
"Despite turning 25 years old during his rookie season, Raimann is extremely young in football years with room to continue improving. The Packers don't necessarily 'need' to draft Raimann considering Elgton Jenkins has proved he can play right tackle at a high level, but the selection would allow the team to keep Jenkins at his best spot, which is left guard, and give them invaluable flexibility, depth and options to sustain the rigors of an NFL season."
29. Kansas City Chiefs (from San Francisco): S Jaquan Brisker, Penn State
Jaquan Brisker Scouting Report
The Kansas City Chiefs already added a pair of veteran safeties this offseason when the team signed Justin Reid and Deon Bush. Bush is a part-time player and special teams contributor. So, the idea of adding a third safety alongside Reid and Juan Thornhill to create more flexibility within the defensive scheme isn't out of the question, especially when a complete prospect remains available late in the first round.
"Brisker is a big-bodied safety who was able to progress and develop his game over his college career," Giddings said. "As a safety, he has the ability to come down and be physical in the box. He also possesses the footwork and athleticism to play deep and in space. When playing the run, he shows his great functional strength and explosive quickness to beat blocks and disrupt plays in the backfield.
"Although he was very productive playing in the box, Brisker showed he's more of a box player with his athletic-testing profile."
At Penn State's pro day, the 6'1⅜", 199-pound safety posted a 4.43-second 40-yard dash, 38½-inch vertical jump and excellent change-of-direction times, according to The Athletic's Dane Brugler. Brisker was also the only Power Five safety prospect to post 80-plus grades against the run and pass last season, per Pro Football Focus.
30. Kansas City Chiefs: WR Christian Watson, North Dakota State
Christian Watson Scouting Report
The Kansas City Chiefs may have moved on from Tyreek Hill, but finances motivated that decision. The organization still wants a difference-maker at the position.
At this point in the draft, the top six wide receivers are off the board. Instead, North Dakota State's Christian Watson slides into this spot because of his immense physical capabilities.
Watson is a 6'4", 208-pound target with a 4.36-second 40-yard dash and 38.5-inch vertical jump. From a raw tools perspective, he posted the second-best relative athletic score for his position since 1987, according to Pro Football Network's Kent Lee Platte.
But the Bison feature a run-first offense. The wide receiver never managed more than 43 receptions or 801 yards in a season. However, the Chiefs will certainly feature a target like Watson far more.
"Watson is a late riser up draft boards because of his size and athletic traits," Tice reiterated. "He played in a college offense that does not throw the ball a ton, but it did ask him to run NFL-type routes that should allow him to contribute earlier than expected.
"The Chiefs seem to be going for more size in their receiver room via free agency, and Watson would fit in nicely as a prospect with an arrow still pointing up with the possibility of adding more to his game."
31. Cincinnati Bengals: IOL Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa
Tyler Linderbaum Scouting Report
The Bengals representative in Las Vegas should run to the podium if Iowa's Tyler Linderbaum is still available this late in the first round.
"The selection of the most talented run-blocking interior lineman in the class with the 31st overall pick is excellent value, and Linderbaum brings the 'glass-eating' playing style that offensive line coach Frank Pollack wants from his players," Thorn stated. "Linderbaum's stock has been called into question ever since a foot sprain prevented him from participating in the Senior Bowl. He then was unable to test at the combine or pro day because of the same injury.
"Linderbaum's film still speaks volumes to how good of a football player he is. However, he fell short of the 300-pound plateau at the combine with 31⅛-inch arms.
"Despite the size limitations, Linderbaum is a juiced-up, explosive and dynamic weapon in the run game who has a chance to be an impact starter. Securing that upside this late in the first round could be a steal for the Bengals."
Cincinnati could realistically go from one of the league's worst offensive fronts to being counted among the best after the additions of Linderbaum, La'el Collins, Alex Cappa and Ted Karras.
32. Detroit Lions (from L.A. Rams): Edge David Ojabo, Michigan
Unfortunately, David Ojabo suffered a torn Achilles tendon during Michigan's pro day. Despite the injury, the Detroit Lions are well-positioned to take a chance on Ojabo, redshirt him for a year and capitalize with a talented pass-rusher down the road.
By using the second of their two opening-round selections, the Lions can offset the injury to some degree because his rookie deal will have a fifth-year option.
From an on-field perspective, the Lions require a boost to their pass rush. The team features the Okwara brothers, but neither presents the same type of explosiveness off the edge as a healthy Ojabo.
"Detroit has a handful of decent rotational pass-rushers, but they need a guy with real juice," Klassen mentioned. "Ojabo gives the Lions the best chance to find that guy with this selection. Though still young, both in age (21) and experience, Ojabo brings elite speed and bend off the edge. He flies off the ball with dangerous acceleration and has the flexibility to work the corner consistently.
"Plus, Ojabo is comfortable as a stand-up outside linebacker, which he should be asked to do a lot of in Detroit. The Nigerian immigrant's run defense and play strength need work, but it's easy to fall in love with his pure speed-rushing skills."
33. Jacksonville Jaguars: IOL Kenyon Green, Texas A&M
34. Detroit Lions: WR Khalil Shakir, Boise State
35. New York Jets: Edge Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State
36. New York Giants: CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson
37. Houston Texans: WR George Pickens, Georgia
38. New York Jets (from Carolina): WR Justyn Ross, Clemson
39. Chicago Bears: WR Alec Pierce, Cincinnati
40. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver): Edge Drake Jackson, USC
41. Seattle Seahawks: CB Martin Emerson, Mississippi State
42. Indianapolis Colts (from Washington): QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
43. Atlanta Falcons: LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
44. Cleveland Browns: DL Travis Jones, Connecticut
45. Baltimore Ravens: TE Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State
46. Minnesota Vikings: S Jalen Pitre, Baylor
47. Washington Commanders (from Indianapolis): QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss
48. Chicago Bears (from L.A. Chargers): Edge Boye Mafe, Minnesota
49. New Orleans Saints: TE Trey McBride, Colorado State
50. Kansas City Chiefs (from Miami): OT Tyler Smith, Tulsa
51. Philadelphia Eagles: S Daxton Hill, Michigan
52. Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Derion Kendrick, Georgia
53. Green Bay Packers (from Las Vegas): LB Christian Harris, Alabama
54. New England Patriots: CB Coby Bryant, Cincinnati
55. Arizona Cardinals: RB Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State
56. Dallas Cowboys: LB Quay Walker, Georgia
57. Buffalo Bills: RB Breece Hall, Iowa State
58. Atlanta Falcons (from Tennessee): DL Phidarian Mathis, Alabama
59. Green Bay Packers: WR Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama
60. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: IOL Ed Ingram, LSU
61. San Francisco 49ers: CB Tariq Woolen, UTSA
62. Kansas City Chiefs: Edge Sam Williams, Ole Miss
63. Cincinnati Bengals: DL Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma
64. Denver Broncos (from L.A. Rams): S Lewis Cine, Georgia
65. Jacksonville Jaguars: LB Chad Muma, Wyoming
66. Detroit Lions: DL DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M
67. New York Giants: TE Greg Dulcich, UCLA
68. Houston Texans: IOL Jamaree Salyer, Georgia
69. New York Jets: S Bryan Cook, Cincinnati
70. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Carolina): IOL Dylan Parham, Memphis
71. Chicago Bears: IOL Cole Strange, Chattanooga
72. Seattle Seahawks: OT Daniel Faalele, Minnesota
73. Indianapolis Colts: WR Skyy Moore, Western Michigan
74. Atlanta Falcons: RB Jerome Ford, Cincinnati
75. Denver Broncos: TE Cade Otton, Washington
76. Baltimore Ravens: CB Roger McCreary, Auburn
77. Minnesota Vikings: Edge Josh Paschal, Kentucky
78. Cleveland Browns: Edge Cameron Thomas, San Diego State
79. Los Angeles Chargers: LB Leo Chenal, Wisconsin
80. Houston Texans (from New Orleans): TE Jelani Woods, Virginia
81. New York Giants (from Miami): CB Mykael Wright, Oregon
82. Atlanta Falcons (from Indianapolis): Edge Micheal Clemons, Texas A&M
83. Philadelphia Eagles: LB Darrian Beavers, Cincinnati
84. Pittsburgh Steelers: QB Sam Howell, North Carolina
85. New England Patriots: IOL Marquis Hayes, Oklahoma
86. Las Vegas Raiders: IOL Lecitus Smith, Virginia Tech
87. Arizona Cardinals: DL Neil Farrell Jr., LSU
88. Dallas Cowboys: WR David Bell, Purdue
89. Buffalo Bills: Edge Nik Bonitto, Oklahoma
90. Tennessee Titans: WR John Metchie III, Alabama
91. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: RB Kyren Williams, Notre Dame
92. Green Bay Packers: CB Zyon McCollum, Sam Houston State
93. San Francisco 49ers: IOL Cam Jurgens, Nebraska
94. Kansas City Chiefs: OT Luke Goedeke, Central Michigan
95. Cincinnati Bengals: OT Rasheed Walker, Penn State
96. Denver Broncos (from L.A. Rams): Edge Alex Wright, UAB
97. Detroit Lions (compensatory): RB Tyler Allgeier, BYU
98. New Orleans Saints (compensatory): CB Kyler Gordon, Washington
99. Cleveland Browns (compensatory): WR Jaivon Heiligh, Coastal Carolina
100. Baltimore Ravens (compensatory): Edge Kingsley Enagbare, South Carolina
101. New Orleans Saints (compensatory): S Leon O'Neal Jr., Texas A&M
102. Miami Dolphins (from San Francisco): LB Damone Clark, LSU
103. Kansas City Chiefs (compensatory): LB Channing Tindall, Georgia
104. Los Angeles Rams (compensatory): Edge Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati
105. San Francisco 49ers (compensatory): WR Kyle Philips, UCLA
106. Jacksonville Jaguars: DL Jayden Peevy, Texas A&M
107. Houston Texans (from Detroit): OT Nicholas Petit-Frere, Ohio State
108. Houston Texans: RB Rachaad White, Arizona State
109. Seattle Seahawks (from NY Jets): LB Brandon Smith, Penn State
110. Baltimore Ravens (from NY Giants): IOL Luke Fortner, Kentucky
111. New York Jets (from Carolina): LB Malcolm Rodriguez, Oklahoma State
112. New York Giants (from Chicago): S JT Woods, Baylor
113. Washington Commanders: TE Grant Calcaterra, SMU
114. Atlanta Falcons: QB Carson Strong, Nevada
115. Denver Broncos: OT Kellen Diesch, Arizona State
116. Denver Broncos (from Seattle): CB Josh Jobe, Alabama
117. New York Jets (from Minnesota): WR Wan'Dale Robinson, Kentucky
118. Cleveland Browns: IOL Zach Tom, Wake Forest
119. Baltimore Ravens: IOL Cade Mays, Tennessee
120. New Orleans Saints: OT Abraham Lucas, Washington State
121. Kansas City Chiefs (from Miami): WR Calvin Austin III, Memphis
122. Indianapolis Colts: IOL Darian Kinnard, Kentucky
123. Los Angeles Chargers: OT Max Mitchell, Louisiana
124. Philadelphia Eagles: Edge Tyree Johnson, Texas A&M
125. Miami Dolphins (from Pittsburgh): IOL Dohnovan West, Arizona State
126. Las Vegas Raiders: DL John Ridgeway, Arkansas
127. New England Patriots: OT Spencer Burford, UTSA
128. Baltimore Ravens (from Arizona): CB Alontae Taylor, Tennessee
129. Dallas Cowboys: Edge Dominique Robinson, Miami (OH)
130. Buffalo Bills: IOL Sean Rhyan, UCLA
131. Tennessee Titans: CB Kalon Barnes, Baylor
132. Green Bay Packers: WR Tyquan Thornton, Baylor
133. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Cam Taylor-Britt, Nebraska
134. San Francisco 49ers: TE Jake Ferguson, Wisconsin
135. Kansas City Chiefs: TE Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina
136. Cincinnati Bengals: RB James Cook, Georgia
137. Carolina Panthers (from LA Rams): IOL Joshua Ezeudu, North Carolina
138. Pittsburgh Steelers (compensatory): WR Bo Melton, Rutgers
139. Baltimore Ravens (compensatory): S Bubba Bolden, Miami
140. Green Bay Packers (compensatory): DL Matthew Butler, Tennessee
141. Baltimore Ravens (compensatory): RB Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M
142. Los Angeles Rams (compensatory): IOL Justin Shaffer, Georgia
143. Tennessee Titans (compensatory): RB Zamir White, Georgia