2024 NFL Mock Draft: Teams Trade Up for J.J. McCarthy & Michael Penix Jr.

2024 NFL Mock Draft: Teams Trade Up for J.J. McCarthy & Michael Penix Jr. article feature image

Getty Images. Pictured: J.J. McCarthy (left) and Caleb Williams.

Collaborating with Action Network for the 2024 NFL Draft is Nick Guarisco (@fantasylawguy on X), who ranked in the top six in mock draft accuracy from 2019-21 at NFL Mock Draft Database, a site that grades the accuracy of mock drafts across the industry and includes analysts like ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.

Guarisco's final mock for last year's NFL Draft hit on eight team-player matches and identified 28 of 32 first-rounders, though it failed to match the success of previous years. NFL Mock Draft Database graded his 2023 NFL mock draft as the 92nd-most accurate among 1,384 expert mock drafts. This result broke a streak of four consecutive years of his final mock draft finishing inside the top 20. You can find his mock draft history on FantasyLawGuy.com.

With the draft just around the corner, check out his latest 2024 NFL mock draft predictions below.

2024 NFL Mock Draft: Teams Trade Up for J.J. McCarthy & Michael Penix Jr.

1BearsCaleb Williams, QB, USC
2CommandersJayden Daniels, QB, LSU
3PatriotsDrake Maye, QB, UNC
4CardinalsMarvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State
5Vikings**J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan
6GiantsMalik Nabers, WR, LSU
7TitansJoe Alt, OT, Notre Dame
8FalconsLaiatu Latu, DE, UCLA
9BearsByron Murphy II, DT, Texas
10JetsRome Odunze, WR, Washington
11Chargers**JC Latham, OT, Alabama
12BroncosDallas Turner, DE, Alabama
13RaidersTerrion Arnold, CB, Alabama
14SaintsOlu Fashanu, OT, Penn State
15ColtsBrock Bowers, TE, Georgia
16SeahawksTroy Fautanu, OT, Washington
17JaguarsKool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama
18BengalsTaliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State
19RamsXavier Worthy, WR, Texas
20SteelersGraham Barton, OG, Duke
21DolphinsJared Verse, DE, Florida State
22EaglesAmarius Mims, OT, Georgia
23VikingsQuinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo
24CowboysTyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma
25PackersCooper DeJean, CB, Iowa
26BuccaneersJackson Powers-Johnson, C, Oregon
27CardinalsDarius Robinson, DT, Missouri
28BillsBrian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU
29LionsJohnny Newton, DT, Illinois
30RavensChop Robinson, DE, Penn State
31Raiders**QB Michael Penix Jr., Washington
32ChiefsKingsley Suamataia, OT, BYU

1. QB Caleb Williams (USC)

Chicago Bears (via Carolina Panthers)

Most likely range for Williams: 1
Most likely destination for Williams: CHI
Team needs: QB, DE, WR, DT

Williams is -20000 at FanDuel to be the first overall pick.

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2. QB Jayden Daniels (LSU)

Washington Commanders

Most likely range for Daniels: 2-3
Most likely destinations for Daniels: WAS, NE, LVR, MIN
Team needs: QB, LT, DE, CB

Sentiment initially grew that Jayden Daniels is the preferred option, with names like Adam Schefter, Albert Breer and Colin Cowherd stating that Jayden Daniels is the frontrunner here. In addition, Washington insider (and very accurate mocker) Ben Standig also placed Daniels at No. 2 in his last mock.

However, Standig also noted that it’s very possible that the Commanders have not decided yet.

Some believe that offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury may be more familiar with Daniels' skill set after he worked with Kyler Murray.

Ex-head coach Ron Rivera echoed these sentiments.

Some also believe that Washington, with new but inexperienced NFL GM Adam Peters, may place a higher value on Daniels’ experience and production. Others believe that Washington's minor moves to add backup quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Jeff Driskel speak to a bigger picture in terms of wanting backups to somewhat resemble Daniels’ mobile skillset.

Notably, LSU head coach Brian Kelly said Daniels is going to make plays "for Washington,” but it turns out that he was answering a Washington-based question and was not accidentally tipping the pick.

In addition, “The Coachspeak Index” has pointed out a relevant quote from head coach Dan Quinn. When asked about what he looks for in a quarterback, Quinn focused on processing speed and making the right decisions. Later, when Quinn was asked about Daniels specifically, he stated, “Jayden has been able to, like, really process things quickly…Man, he has real decision-making and process, like, fast.”

Furthermore, Quinn described Daniels as a “game-changer” early in the process when asked to describe all quarterbacks using one word. Many of the arrows point in the direction of Daniels over Drake Maye here.

On the other side, Daniel Jeremiah, arguably the most plugged-in NFL Draft analyst, has stuck with Maye in his mocks and recently reiterated the same on Twitter. Moreover, Schefter has since seemed to walk back his comments that Daniels was probably the pick, admitting that Daniels “has an interest being in other places.” Schefter followed up by saying that it’s ultimately up to the Commanders, not the player.

However, Daniels’ agent passive-aggressively suggested on Twitter that he was not a fan of Washington bringing in all top QB prospects for a group gathering, which implies that the meeting may not have gone splendidly. This echoes Evan Silva’s “report” that Daniels’ initial meetings with the Commanders were not as favorable as those with New England. Furthermore, Daniels took a meeting with the Vikings shortly after his last visit with Washington, which seems curious unless of course he does not expect to be selected by Washington.

Importantly, Maye has connections throughout the offensive coaching staff in Washington. Per Sports Illustrated, quarterbacks coach Tavita Pritchard recruited Maye from high school to Stanford, and Kingsbury knows Maye’s offensive coordinator from college. Both of UNC’s offensive coordinators who coached Maye — Phil Longo and Chip Lindsey — run a version of the classic Air Raid offense that Kingsbury runs. Longo called Kingsbury a brilliant offensive mind when he was hired.

Also notable is that former GM Rick Spielman — a former advisor to new Washington owner Josh Harris who was tasked with, among other things, hiring a new GM — believes that Maye is the superior prospect and stated on the record that he should be the pick.

“You’re crazy if you think Jayden is going before Drake,” Spielman said.

It’s unclear how much weight his opinion carries, if any, but again, Peters was — at least in part — hired because of Spielman. It’s fair to say that Peters is at least aware of Spielman’s stance.

All things considered, Maye seems well-connected here.

GM Adam Peters has kept this a legitimate secret, but the market is starting to shift back to Daniels being a heavy favorite. Lastly, I’ve heard that Washington’s owner is one of the many who have been enamored with J.J. McCarthy throughout this process. All in all, I see this pick being 60% Daniels, 30% Maye, and 10% McCarthy.

I have the Commanders’ targets for Pick 2 as follows: Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye, J.J. McCarthy

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3. QB Drake Maye (North Carolina)

New England Patriots

Most likely range for Maye: 2-6
Most likely destinations for Maye: WAS, NE, NYG, MIN
Team needs: QB, WR, LT, S

New England has held “30” visits with top quarterbacks Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye and J.J. McCarthy, which is relevant considering that all of New England’s draft picks last season had a “30” visit with the team except for Keion White.

Though there’s new management in place, New England’s lack of a general manager should actually lend credence to the idea that New England should want to use all resources available to ensure boxes are checked.

Accordingly, it’s worth noting that New England has not yet conducted a “30” visit with any other prospect inside the top 30 picks, per Sharp Mocks. For these reasons and more, I strongly believe New England is taking a QB here.

While I do think trading down is possible if blown away by an offer, I’m also not buying the narrative that NE will punt on a QB this year because the roster is “not ready” for a franchise QB. It’s highly unlikely that the team will be in a better position than it is now to address the position.

Daniel Jeremiah also said he'd be "stunned" if NE does not take a QB. Moreover, owner Robert Kraft said he'd "like to see us get a top-rate young quarterback."

In a year where NE lacks leadership at the GM position, Kraft’s say may be more heavily considered. Expect the team to roll with a quarterback as opposed to drafting a WR (which it also desperately needs) or trading out of the spot. If they do trade back, I’d bet they try to target QB J.J. McCarthy.

Interim GM Eliot Wolf has stated that New England is “open for business.” I believe he’s trying to leverage Minnesota, a team competing with others to move up for a franchise QB (perhaps Maye). New England could bite on a trade if Minnesota mortgages the farm in a move-up from No. 11.

The Vikings and Patriots front offices have a relationship, and everyone knows Minnesota is desperate for a QB.

Though many assume that Pick No. 3 will be Jayden Daniels or Drake Maye, we should probably throw J.J. McCarthy’s hat into the ring. It’s abundantly clear that the NFL views McCarthy much more favorably than the media and fans. An outstanding Pro Day and strong interviews are among many things that have reportedly had teams enamored.

Last week, draft analyst Tony Pauline reported the buzz at the Pro Day circuit was that Wolf loved McCarthy. It’s fair to assume that Kraft may believe a Michigan quarterback who went 27-1 as a starter, won a national title and has reportedly crushed interviews reminds him of someone familiar.

That being said, Albert Breer reported that the Patriots sent an “eye-popping” number of people to Daniels’ and Maye’s Pro Days. Head coach Jerod Mayo noted that Maye had a “fantastic interview at the combine” after Wolf emphasized that New England would take into account intangibles like leadership and body language in addition to strong physical traits.

Ultimately, I could see New England taking any of the top three quarterbacks. However, in his first mock, Peter Schrager stated, “I think they are fine with whichever falls to them” out of Maye and Daniels. Albert Breer also stated, "If Daniels is there, "I'd bet they'd take him."

My inclination is that the Pats will stay at No. 3 and take either Maye or McCarthy here. If they trade back, I expect them to remain close enough to get McCarthy. I also believe they prefer Daniels over the others.

I have the Patriots’ targets for Pick 3 as follows: Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye, J.J. McCarthy

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4. WR Marvin Harrison Jr. (Ohio State)

Arizona Cardinals

Most likely range for Harrison: 4-6
Most likely destinations for Harrison: ARI, LAC, NYG
Team needs: WR, CB, DE, LG

GM Monti Ossenfort has an affinity for trading down and has made this pick open for business, presumably for a team that wants to move up for a quarterback.

Consequently, I don’t believe the team is locked into wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. here. It’s certainly tough to move off a premier talent, though.

Beat writer Chuck Harris implied Harrison would love to be drafted by Cardinals, and Matthew Berry reported at the combine that he expects Arizona to stick and pick. The Cardinals have had multiple visits (including “30s”) with Harrison, Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze. However, Nabers had a gun-related arrest that may turn off some teams. Peter Schrager, who has had notable connections with Arizona in the past, reported on the Pat McAfee Show that he’s been told the Cardinals will take Harrison if they stay at No. 4, “but they made trade out.”

Schrager had the Cardinals trading down and selecting Odunze a few picks later. To add to the confusion, a few reliable sources have held the opinion that the Cardinals have Nabers graded equally or even higher on their board than Harrison.

In any case, Harrison is expected to be the pick if the Cardinals stick at No. 4. If the team trades down, the end game could be to come back up (like last year) and take Nabers or Odunze. I believe the Cardinals prefer Nabers to Odunze, but Arizona has met with all three WRs on multiple occasions.

In a trade-down scenario, it’s worth noting that the team has also had “30” visits with three Alabama prospects: defensive end Dallas Turner, offensive tackle JC Latham and cornerback Terrion Arnold. This is relevant because last year, the team similarly visited with a variety of mid-first-round offensive line prospects, foreshadowing a potential trade down. Arizona ended up trading down from No. 3 to No. 6 and drafted OT Paris Johnson Jr.

In the event the Vikings can execute a trade with the trade-happy Ossenfort but can’t pull off the move to get one of the top three WRs, the worst-case scenario may be Turner, Latham or Arnold. In that case, Arizona would look to target a WR with their second first-round pick (27th overall). Again, I don’t consider this hypothetical likely.

I have the Cardinals’ targets for Pick 4 as follows: Marvin Harrison Jr. …. Trade Down: Malik Nabers, Rome Odunze

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5. QB J.J. McCarthy

Minnesota Vikings (via Los Angeles Chargers)

Most likely range for McCarthy: 3-8
Most likely destinations for McCarthy: NE, NYG, MIN
Team needs: QB, CB, DE, DT

After acquiring a second first-round pick (23), there are a myriad of suggestions that the Vikings have the framework for a trade in place with the Chargers (No. 5) if things go as expected on draft night.

There are connections linking the Vikings and Drake Maye. Specifically, Minnesota quarterbacks coach Josh McCown coached Drake Maye in high school.

The Vikings reportedly love J.J. McCarthy as well, and lately, there have been some tea leaves suggesting Jayden Daniels is the target. Daniels would especially make Justin Jefferson happy.

Regardless, the league is on notice that the Vikings have serious plans to move into the top five to take a franchise quarterback with McCarthy being the likely pick, assuming Maye and Daniels go 2-3.

I should note that I do believe Minnesota will call New England if Maye’s available, but the asking price will likely prove too steep to move up to No. 3. In this case, McCarthy would be a less expensive fallback. In any case, the Vikings are an ideal situation for any incoming rookie QB, which provides more incentive to get this deal done.

If the team is unable to secure the franchise QB and is forced to pick here, the expectation should be a defender. The Vikings aggressively pursued defensive tackle Christian Wilkins in free agency and could still use reinforcements along the D-line. Their top three DTs — Harrison Phillips, Jonathan Bullard and Jerry Tillery — all have expiring contracts in 2025, leaving the room empty next year.

Tony Pauline reported that "the feeling" Vikings were giving at Texas Pro Day was that Byron Murphy II was their contingency plan if J.J. McCarthy or Drake Maye didn’t pan out.

Though the team signed defensive ends Andrew Van Ginkel and Jonathan Greenard, the team may not be finished adding pass rushers either, as there’s not much valuable depth behind them. The Vikings have had DE Dallas Turner in for a “30” visit, and I’d bet the team is high on him.

There are holes in the secondary despite the fact that the Vikings have poured recent capital into the unit. Head coach Kevin O'Connell specifically stated, "We want to get to a place where we play more man coverage." The team signed cornerback Shaq Griffin, but the work may not be done. I could see the team intrigued by Quinyon Mitchell, who they brought in for a “30” visit.

I have the Vikings’ targets for Pick 11 as follows: Trade Up: Drake Maye, J.J. McCarthy, Jayden Daniels … Dallas Turner, Byron Murphy II, Quinyon Mitchell, Terrion Arnold, Michael Penix Jr.

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6. WR Malik Nabers (LSU)

New York Giants

Most likely range for Nabers: 5-7
Most likely destinations for Nabers: ARI, LAC, NYG, TEN
Team needs: QB, WR, CB, DT, LG

The Giants signed Daniel Jones to a massive contract last year, but it has something of an out after 2025.

Jones is coming off a major injury, and there are conflicting reports as to whether or not the team has given up on Jones or not.

Recently, the Giants signed quarterback Drew Lock, for what that’s worth. Per Giants beat writer Jordan Raanan, GM Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll have the green light to draft a QB if they desire.

Giants owner John Mara has also stated, "If they fall in love with the quarterback and believe it's worth pick No. 6 or moving up, I would certainly support that."

On the one hand, the Giants have met with Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye, J.J. McCarthy and even Michael Penix Jr. on three separate occasions. In fact, McCarthy visited the Giants privately for two days on Easter Eve and Easter Sunday. That seems like more than meager “due diligence.”

Further, Albert Breer revealed that he’s heard the Giants were tied to Drake Maye for months, and he believes the Giants will make a play for Maye if given the chance. Otherwise, the team will “take a different position.”

I agree. I don’t think the Giants trade up for McCarthy, but the team may consider him if he falls in their lap — especially if the Cardinals and Chargers stay and take Marvin Harrison Jr. and Malik Nabers, respectively.

On the other hand, the Giants have sent arguably too many signals showing interest in this class’ top QBs, namely J.J. McCarthy, to the point where many theorize that this may be an elaborate smokescreen in an attempt to get another team to move in front of them for a quarterback, which in turn, would allow an elite wide receiver prospect like Malik Nabers fall to No. 6.

Astute observers have pointed out that the Giants may have participated in a smear campaign of sorts against Kayvon Thibodeaux a few years ago before New York ended up selecting him fifth overall.

Regardless, there’s a major need at WR.

Darius Slayton and Jalin Hyatt are nice deep threats and Wan’Dale Robinson can play inside, but a playmaker is needed — especially with tight end Darren Waller potentially retiring soon.

Many believe Nabers is the WR New York covets, but it’s possible the Giants prefer Rome Odunze considering his size. There were also reported concerns about Nabers adapting to a big city based on a purported diva personality and a gun-related arrest in New Orleans that eventually got dropped. Albert Breer made the comparison to Odell Beckham Jr.

Nabers and Odunze are both excellent athletes. Last year, Schoen provided the following reasons for selecting cornerback Deonte Banks in Round 1: "Prototype from a size standpoint. Speed. Athleticism. Four-year starter."

This could indicate Schoen is valuing size, athleticism and experience early on. New York has met with Odunze twice and Nabers thrice, including a “30” visit for each.

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that the Giants have major issues on the offensive line. The team made 50 of 85 possible starts (32nd), but the expectation is that the Giants will bypass the line in the first round seeing as they addressed some of those issues in free agency by signing four players.

Left tackle Joe Alt visited with the Giants on a “30” visit and is considered the safest OT prospect in years; that surety would be needed after the team recently whiffed on OT Evan Neal.

I have the Giants’ targets for Pick 6 as follows: Trade Up: Drake Maye … J.J. McCarthy, Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers, Rome Odunze, Joe Alt

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7. OT Joe Alt (Notre Dame)

Tennessee Titans

Most likely range for Alt: 5-10
Most likely destinations for Alt: LAC, TEN, CHI, NYJ
Team needs: OT, DL, WR

Although the Titans signing Calvin Ridley seemingly put to rest the need to draft a wide receiver here, I wouldn't rule it out.

Given DeAndre Hopkins' age and expiring contract in 2025, the fact that Treylon Burks was drafted by the previous regime and has struggled with injuries, and new head coach Brian Callahan's ability to develop offensive linemen, there are reasons to believe that Tennessee could be leaving the door open for an elite WR.

Furthering that argument is a relevant quote from GM Ron Carthon about preferring the WR when it's a tie with OL. Moreover, Carthon has established this offseason’s major emphasis on speed. Specifically, he stated he wants to be like Miami. For these reasons, I don’t foresee Tennessee passing on Malik Nabers if he fell to this pick.

Callahan was part of the infamous Penei Sewell vs. Ja’Marr Chase debate a few years ago, siding with Chase. History could repeat itself here. Admittedly, I wonder if this would apply to Rome Odunze as well.

Two big themes emerged from Carthon's first draft last year. First, they favor elite athletes from a testing standpoint, particularly on the O-line. Four of the six picks had an RAS of 8.98 or better. Secondly, experience matters. Of the six picks in 2023, only Will Levis wasn't at least a three-year starter. This is relevant for Olu Fashanu and Joe Alt, as both are three- or four-year starters who earned a 9+ RAS.

Diving deeper, offensive line guru Bill Callahan's blocking scheme is unique, consisting of a lot of wide zone. Establish the Run’s Anthony Amico noted that Fashanu has more experience playing in this scheme (55% of snaps) than Alt. However, Alt’s 33 straight starts will be the experience Carthon likes.

Ultimately, either makes sense here, especially considering the massive vacancy at left tackle following Andre Dillard’s release. In addition, starting RT Dillon Radunz’s contract expires next offseason. RGs Daniel Brunskill and Saahdiq Charles are also free agents in 2025.

Alt is the chalk, but Albert Breer noted that JC Latham is well-liked by the Titans. This would probably be in a trade-back scenario, as the Titans need a genuine left tackle first and foremost.

The team has met with Alt and Nabers multiple times, and I expect the pick to be one of those two players with a slight preference for Nabers if available.

I have the Titans’ targets for Pick 7 as follows: Malik Nabers, Joe Alt, JC Latham, Olu Fashanu, Rome Odunze

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8. DE Laiatu Latu (UCLA)

Atlanta Falcons

Most likely range for Latu: 8-31
Most likely destinations for Latu: ATL, LVR, LAR, PHI, ARI, BUF, DET, BAL, SF
Team needs: DE, CB, WR

The pass rush has been a need for the Falcons for several years, as they’ve finished near the bottom of the league in most pass rush categories for three straight seasons. The last three picks (all top 10) have been offensive skill positions, so there's reason to believe this pick needs to address the other side of the ball.

Defensive leader DE Calais Campbell, along with Bud Dupree, are free agents. The Falcons are moving to a 3-4 base, so it’s fair to question whether either will be re-signed.

There are rumors that Atlanta likes Laiatu Latu a lot, but he has some medical concerns (neck) and I'm not sure the team would feel comfortable taking him this early (perhaps in a trade back though). Latu played for new defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake at UCLA, so the connection is there. Falcons sources have indicated the team sees Latu as its top-rated DE.

However, not only would taking Latu represent a pretty substantial medical risk for a top-10 pick, but it would also reflect a departure from GM Terry Fontenot’s historical trends in regard to age and arm length. Latu's 32.5-inch arms fall short of Falcons' DL arm length thresholds. Fontenot comes from New Orleans, an organization notorious for prioritizing length in DL.

In addition, Fontenot's average first rounder’s age is 20.9, the youngest among GMs with at least three drafts. Latu will turn 24 during the season. It’s worth noting that DE Jared Verse is 23, as well, and his arms are only one inch longer than Latu’s. Meanwhile, Dallas Turner is only 21 and has longer arms, so he better fits the historical profile and is the favorite for the pick (though the steam on Latu is growing).

DT Byron Murphy II warrants consideration here as well due to head coach Raheem Morris’ past emphasis on interior disruptors. Daniel Jeremiah said not to rule out Murphy here specifically. DT Grady Jarrett (30) is coming off a torn ACL. Morris comes from the Rams where he had the luxury of DT Aaron Donald. As a former head coach, Morris has spent significant draft capital on D-linemen.

Ultimately, if the sources are to be believed, the Falcons have Latu as the top-rated pass rusher on their board. By contrast, if draft history/tendencies are to be believed, the Falcons would likely prefer Turner over Latu. In any case, I’m expecting Atlanta to trade down.

Cornerback is also a major need with CB Jeff Okudah departing, leaving CB2 relatively vacant opposite of AJ Terrell, who’s entering the final year of his contract. ATL only recorded eight INTs last season (T-30th). CBs Quinyon Mitchell and Terrion Arnold seem to check a lot of boxes here, and both have had “30” visits with Altanta. While Mitchell is more athletic (9+ RAS), Arnold has an age advantage being only 21.

Ultimately, the Falcons are an ideal trade-down team seeing as they can get a pass rusher like Turner, Verse, Latu or Murphy, or CB like Mitchell or Arnold, several picks later.

I have the Falcons’ targets for Pick 8 as follows: Malik Nabers … Trade Down: Laiatu Latu, Dallas Turner, Terrion Arnold, Quinyon Mitchell, Byron Murphy II, Jared Verse

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9. DT Byron Murphy II (Texas)

Chicago Bears

Most likely range for Murphy: 8-24
Most likely destinations for Murphy: ATL, CHI, MIN, NO, JAX, CIN, LAR, MIA, MIN, DAL
Team needs: QB, DE, WR, DT

All indications, including words directly from GM Ryan Poles, are that the Bears are contemplating players at three positions: WR, OT and DE. Although the team has DJ Moore and traded for Keenan Allen, Chicago does not have much behind them in the passing game. Allen (31) is entering the final year of his contract and should not deter Bears from taking Odunze, who can grow with Williams.

This offseason's priority has been to put Caleb Williams in the best position possible to succeed. Bears insider Ben Divine astutely pointed out that new Bears’ offensive coordinator Shane Waldron petitioned for Seattle to draft WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba despite the presence of Metcalf and Lockett. Chicago is in a similar situation here, and I think Rome Odunze ranks highest among the players listed below. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if the Bears moved up to No. 7-8 to secure him despite a lack of ammo (the Bears only have four draft picks).

In spite of the presence of TE Cole Kmet and the recent contract the Bears gave him, we cannot rule out TE Brock Bowers due to his pedigree and the fact that Chicago has met with him twice.

Local product Alt makes the most sense. O-line coach Chris Morgan was active with Alt during Notre Dame's Pro Day, but the fact that Olu Fashanu played with Caleb Williams in high school is interesting. Additionally, the Bears sent a large contingent to the Oregon State pro day, presumably to see Taliese Fuaga work out.
Also, head coach Matt Eberflus listed OT1, WR3, and Edge2 as the positions of need (in that order) when asked about position considerations.
I think Chicago would be hard-pressed to pass on Alt if he slid to Pick 9.

Although the Bears' defense improved in the second half of the season, notably after the addition of DE Montez Sweat, Chicago ranked 31st in sacks and 32nd in sack percentage, averaging fewer than two per game. Thus, reinforcements are needed for the D-line, both at DE and DT, having lost DEs Yannick Ngakoue and Rasheem Green and DT Justin Jones.

DEs Dallas Turner, Jared Verse and even Laiatu Latu make sense to upgrade the pass rush. I’ve heard that Verse is actually tops on the Bears’ board due to his power and run support, though astute observers have pointed out that this defense requires DEs to drop back in coverage quite often, and Turner is the only one among the three to have valuable experience doing so in college. The team has hosted all three top DEs on “30” visits, indicating the interest is real if the board plays out a certain way.

Furthermore, Poles is a high RAS guy, especially along the lines, and all players mentioned above carry RAS scores above nine. Finally, it's worth adding that both Adam Schefter and Albert Breer listed DT Byron Murphy II as a distinct possibility for the Bears.

Despite having only four picks to work with, the Bears are not expected to trade out of this pick. The rebuild is over. The team (with Williams) is ready to compete now, and Poles stated accordingly that he wants a blue-chip player with this pick. Assuming no movement, I expect this blue-chip player to be one of Alt, Odunze or Verse. If Alt and Odunze are both gone, then perhaps the team would explore a move out because in that case, they can likely grab a player like Verse a few spots later.

I have the Bears’ targets for Pick 9 as follows: Malik Nabers, Rome Odunze, Joe Alt, Byron Murphy II, Jared Verse, Dallas Turner, Olu Fashanu, Brock Bowers

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10. WR Rome Odunze (Washington)

New York Jets

Most likely range for Odunze: 6-10
Most likely destinations for Odunze: NYG, TEN, CHI, NYJ
Team needs: LT, WR

The Jets' O-line was decimated by injuries last season; starters made 51 of a possible 85 starts (30th). The team signed LT Tyron Smith, LG John Simpson and RT Morgan Moses, but now the team has two 33-year-old tackles on one-year deals, and LT Smith seems to miss games every year, while RG Alijah Vera-Tucker is also coming off a major injury.

Teams with major OL injuries in the prior season have a tendency to draft OL early, and considering the need to keep Aaron Rodgers (coming off torn Achilles) upright, drafting an OT at No. 10 may be necessary, obviously for the future, but very likely for this season, as well.

Targeting a lineman with versatility (similar to AVT) may be preferable so as to provide injury insurance across the entire unit. This makes OTs Taliese Fuaga, Troy Fautanu, and JC Latham contenders here because many teams believe they can play both guard or tackle. The team has hosted Alt, Latham and Fautana on “30” visits, but many Jets insiders believe the team is high on Fuaga too. The Jets have a history of favoring high RAS athletes and team captains, per beat writer Michael Nania.

The Jets have also avoided players playing in non-Power-5 schools. Accordingly, I expect the team to be especially interested in Alt and Fuaga. However, a strong case can be made for Fautanu because assuming Alt is gone, Fautanu can potentially fill in at left tackle, whereas Latham and Fuaga are likely shoehorned into the right side.

If the logic is to provide injury insurance, the Jets would need the policy to cover the most likely and detrimental injury, which is one to LT Tyron Smith. By this logic, it's understandable why the team is reportedly high on Fautanu. I haven't heard much buzz about OT Olu Fashanu going here, but he's a natural left tackle with a 9+ RAS who is a team captain, so he checks a lot of historical boxes for GM Douglas.

There's also a need for a pass catcher, considering there is nothing behind Mike Williams, who’s coming off a torn ACL and will not be ready for training camp. Plus, he's only signed for one year. This makes WR Rome Odunze and TE Brock Bowers prime targets here. I consider this pick as Odunze's floor and Bowers's ceiling.

For pass catchers, Jets prioritize yards after catch (YAC) ability. Per longtime Jets beat writer Rich Cimini, TE Brock Bowers averaged more YAC per reception (8.8) than the top three receivers, Marvin Harrison Jr. (6.3), Malik Nabers (6.7), and Rome Odunze (5.7). This lends credence to the Jets-Brock Bowers buzz.

As does this quote from GM Douglas: "I think this is an unbelievable offensive line class. It's an unbelievable class at quite a few positions, but I think where we're at now, we have great flexibility to go in any direction." When asked about taking a TE early, Joe Douglas said, "Again, we're open to anyone that can come in here and make an immediate impact for the team." All of Douglas's moves scream, “Win now."

Along these lines, it’s also worth noting that Daniel Jeremiah, who is close to GM Joe Douglas, had NYJ trading up to get Marvin Harrison Jr. in his latest mock. This could be a sign that NYJ plans to make a splash for a pass catcher. If not for Marvin Harrison Jr., then perhaps a move-up to Nos. 7-8 to land Rome Odunze, jumping ahead of Chicago at No. 9, is the play.

The Jets have hosted pass catchers Nabers, Odunze and Bowers on “30” visits.

Despite Bowers’ enticing YAC ability, I believe the Jets prefer Odunze over Bowers if given the choice. Todd McShay, a noted friend of GM Joe Douglas, scoffed at the consensus idea of the Jets selecting Bowers at No. 10, suggesting their lack of draft capital would preclude them from addressing what he considers their biggest need: getting younger at tackle. Still, it will be interesting to see who Daniel Jeremiah, Peter Schrager, and McShay plug for the Jets in their final mocks as those three have established connections inside the building.

I have the Jets’ targets for Pick 10 as follows: Malik Nabers, Rome Odunze, Joe Alt, Brock Bowers, JC Latham, Taliese Fuaga, Olu Fashanu

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11. OT JC Latham (Alabama)

Los Angeles Chargers (via Minnesota Vikings)

Most likely range for Latham: 5-16
Most likely destinations for Latham: TEN, LAC, LVR, SEA
Team needs: QB, CB, DE, DT

The Chargers are a team that is in a position to trade down and probably wants to. Daniel Jeremiah stated, “Getting extra picks is going to be part of the building plan here, allowing Los Angeles to add starters via the draft at an affordable price after paying Herbert big bucks.”

Clearly, WR and OT are major needs, but the lean here is OT for several reasons. The Chargers have stressed that they want to be able to protect Justin Herbert and run the ball under new head coach Jim Harbaugh, who has always prioritized the running game both as a coach in college and in the NFL. Furthermore, offensive coordinator Greg Roman has been one of the most run-heavy OCs in the NFL for the past decade. It should be no surprise that a clip of Harbaugh preaching about the importance of the offensive line went viral.

If the team stays at No. 5, which is not the expectation, Joe Alt makes the most sense as the most polished lineman, though questions arise about his transition to right tackle, which is where he would seemingly play in L.A. It’s quite plausible that the Chargers trade down and draft another tackle who may be seen as a more natural, smashmouth run-blocking right tackle such as Taliese Fuaga and JC Latham. Harbaugh got to watch Latham dominate first-hand when Michigan faced Alabama in the College Football Playoffs.

Conversely, at wide receiver, comments suggest that he’s taking a “we’ll see” approach. This OL over WR philosophy is in line with his college history. In fact, Harbaugh/Roman teams have minimized the position throughout the years, both in college and in the pros. Anthony Amico pointed out that Harbaugh had just two top-15 WR recruits from 2015-23, both of whom came six years ago.

Moreover, several wide receivers have spoken out about the lack of usage in Greg Roman's offenses. Simply put, even though it’s possible that an elite wide receiver prospect is available at No. 5, wide receiver is not a position that this staff cares about. While we cannot rule out WR because it’s a drastic need, drafting one here would be a significant philosophical departure for Harbaugh and Roman, evidenced by nearly a decade of history.

That being said, Hayden Winks connected some dots and revealed that Justin Herbert and Gabe Nabers were roommates; Gabe’s nephew is Malik Nabers, who’s the only one of the top three WRs to have a “30” visit with Los Angeles. During that meeting, he actually showed on a live social media video a residence he was presumably touring with the intention of purchasing if drafted by the Chargers.

If Marvin Harrison Jr. makes it to No. 5 (likely in the scenario where the Cardinals trade with the Vikings), it’s expected that Harbaugh will select him seeing as he is familiar with his game as a rival from the Big Ten. Regardless of philosophy, I do not think we should be surprised if the Chargers stay at No. 5 and take Nabers.

While Harbaugh’s feelings about the wide receiver position seem apparent, history suggests he values the tight end position more. Per PFF, only Iowa has targeted its tight ends more than Harbaugh's Michigan teams among the entire FBS (per Andrew Erickson). Amico also noted Harbaugh’s recruiting history showed a prioritization for tight ends. Harbaugh had Vernon Davis in San Francisco, while Greg Roman had Charles Clay in Buffalo and Mark Andrews in Baltimore.

According to a source, the Chargers were in on TE Dalton Kincaid last year, and TE Brock Bowers could provide a pass-catching focal point as opposed to the poor WRs in a trade-down scenario, which many expect the Chargers to execute. The Chargers have met with Bowers multiple times during the draft process.

I have the Chargers’ targets for Pick 5 as follows: Marvin Harrison Jr., Joe Alt … Trade Down: JC Latham, Malik Nabers, Brock Bowers

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12. DE Dallas Turner (Alabama)

Denver Broncos

Most likely range for Turner: 8-15
Most likely destinations for Turner: ATL, CHI, DEN
Team needs: QB, DE, CB, TE, C

It's difficult to grasp Denver leaving round one without a quarterback, considering Jarrett Stidham and Ben DiNucci (who have a combined five NFL starts) are the only quarterbacks on the roster. However, Denver presumably lacks the ammunition to trade up to Nos. 3-5 overall, despite Sean Payton calling it a "realistic possibility" when asked at the NFL owners meetings.

Tony Pauline recently reiterated a belief that Sean Payton loves J.J. McCarthy (which checks out) and plans to mortgage the future to get in position to draft him. It's at least on the table. If not, Denver has been heavily linked to Bo Nix by Broncos insider Benjamin Allbright and others as an ideal QB pairing with Payton. Picking Nix at 12 seems rich and arguably unnecessary, however, especially when factoring in the lack of competition for Nix in round one.

The Broncos may trade back into round one or early round two if Payton’s interest is indeed real, but the team does not currently have a second-round pick to help achieve that end. Therefore, trading down into the 20s seems like the most realistic option if Nix is Payton’s guy.

Regardless of who is at QB, Denver has a massive pass-catching need, be it WR or TE. The team traded Jerry Jeudy, and rumor has it that Courtland Sutton could be next to depart. It’s hard to envision a WR like Rome Odunze or Malik Nabers falling here, but WR Brian Thomas Jr. is an option, as is TE Brock Bowers.

GM George Paton stated, "I don't want to give all our needs, but we need to solidify the tight end position. Dulcich has been hurt. But we need a weapon in the middle of the field. Felt like we missed that." If the Jets pass on Brock Bowers, he could land here two picks later. Sean Payton has had an extensive and successful history utilizing the move-TE position effectively, along with sizable possession WRs. He’s been open about finding someone to fill that “joker” position in his offense, a player he can move around the formation like a queen in chess to create mismatches. Bowers could be that guy.

Defensively, Allbright has talked up the importance of the CB position throughout the process, especially in the Vic Fangio scheme the team is still using. The Broncos don't have any legit CB2 opposite Patrick Surtain Jr. DEN allowed 98 QB Rating in 2023 (30th). CBs Quinyon Mitchell and Terrion Arnold could be factors.

In addition, the pass rush cannot be ignored. Behind DE Nik Bonitto, DEs Cooper and Browning, as well as DT D.J. Jones, have expiring contracts in 2025. The Broncos’ run defense was atrocious last season (see the Miami 70-burger vs. Denver, which likely embarrassed the organization and its decision-makers). That game alone makes a strong case for DT Byron Murphy II.

The apparent needs at CB and DE put DEs Dallas Turner, Jared Verse and Laiatu Latu, as well as Mitchell and Arnold, squarely in play. Namely, I’ve heard the Broncos are high on Latu.

I have the Broncos’ targets for Pick 12 as follows: Trade Up: J.J. McCarthy … Brock Bowers, Dallas Turner, Jared Verse, Byron Murphy II, Quinyon Mitchell, Terrion Arnold, Trade Down: Bo Nix

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13. CB Terrion Arnold (Alabama)

Las Vegas Raiders

Most likely range for Arnold: 11-22
Most likely destinations for Arnold: DEN, LVR, IND, JAX, PHI
Team needs: QB, RT, RG, DT, CB, RB

Head coach Antonio Pierce has vocalized what he wants out of a Raiders draft pick. "I don't want anybody that's entitled, that don't have a little chip on their shoulder. We're not going to mesh. It's just not going to happen. … I'm the guardian at the gate. I'm not letting any evil into the building."

Per Raiders beat writer Vic Tafur, Pierce values “alpha males with an edge.” He will not shy away from big personalities with swagger because he believes he is like that himself. Pierce values players who have overcome adversity and those who have an “underdog mentality.” Pierce seems passionate about this, and therefore, I’m passionate about mocking the Raiders a player who fits this personality.

QB Jayden Daniels and QB Michael Penix Jr. fit these descriptions to a tee. I’m definitely buying the rumors that the Raiders love Daniels and have considered packaging several picks to move up. I’m also buying the notion that Daniels wants to play for the Raiders. Pierce recruited him to ASU.

Assuming the Raiders cannot pull off this dream trade, the fallback plan could be Penix, who has had four season-ending injuries but his medical evaluations were supposedly fine. Penix has been very candid about battling through adversity stemming from those injuries. This provides some context for Daniel Jeremiah shockingly mocking Michael Penix Jr. to the Raiders at No. 13. While this seems aggressive for a 24-year-old QB with an injury history, we shouldn’t be remotely surprised if the Raiders move back into round one to secure Michael Penix Jr.

While QB is the obvious need, the Raiders are more likely to select a cornerback or offensive lineman at No. 13.

The right side of the O-line needs to be addressed after losing RG Greg Van Roten and RT Jermaine Eluemunor, who started a combined 33 of a possible 34 games last season. Per Peter King, Raiders were in love with OTs Paris Johnson Jr. and Anton Harrison last year and were considering both moving back a couple of spots to take Harrison if Tyree Wilson didn't fall, or trading back into round one to grab Harrison.

New GM Tom Telesco invested two recent first-round picks in OL with the Chargers: LT Rashawn Slater and OG Zion Johnson. In fact, Andrew Erickson pointed out that Telesco drafted eight O-linemen in the top three rounds during his time with the Chargers, the most of any position.

Accordingly, OTs JC Latham and Taliese Fuaga make a ton of sense here. Dane Brugler’s draft guide described Fuaga, a team captain, as reliable, accountable and tough. Fuaga, specifically, sounds like someone Pierce and Telesco will agree on. It would be foolish to rule out someone like Latham though.

Additionally, CB is a major need for this team, with Pierce calling it a "priority" to find a CB1. There is reason to believe that Terrion Arnold is Pierce's CB1, with Arnold admitting that Pierce had high praise for him after they were seen talking at the combine. Moreover, Anthony Amico noted that Arnold may be a good scheme fit with both the Raiders and Arnold mostly playing zone. Dane Brugler’s draft guide noted that Arnold “loves to compete,” citing his charisma and mental toughness as being desirable for the position. Again, this sounds like a personality Pierce will covet.

I have the Raiders’ targets for Pick 13 as follows: Trade Up: Jayden Daniels … Terrion Arnold, JC Latham, Taliese Fuaga, Michael Penix Jr.

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14. OT Olu Fashanu (Penn State)

New Orleans Saints

Most likely range for Fashanu: 7-17
Most likely destinations for Fashanu: TEN, CHI, LVR, NO, SEA, JAX
Team needs: OT, DE, LG, S

The Saints have a major need at OT, seeing as LT Trevor Penning has not panned out. Recent reports regarding RT Ryan Ramczyk suggest his knee may jeopardize his ability to play this season. Further, retirement was mentioned as being in the realm of possibility. LT/LG James Hurst is only on a one-year deal that's relatively cheap. He's expected to compete with Trevor Penning at the LG spot.

The good news is that the Saints are picking squarely in the middle of a range of several quality OTs in a loaded OL class. What’s relevant is that the Saints are in a new offensive system in which new offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak focuses on mobility and zone-blocking schemes like his father, Gary, who based his offense on Mike Shanahan's. This wide-zone scheme is not frequently run in college but should help mockers discern among which of the numerous round-one offensive linemen the Saints would be more likely to select.

Saints beat writer Nick Underhill has been extremely accurate in predicting the players that the team will target in the draft. He believes that after Joe Alt, Olu Fashanu is the best fit for the team based on his athleticism, agility, and experience at left tackle. Underhill also mentioned JC Latham as a fit, though more of a projection would be required to play LT.

Underhill suggested that Amarius Mims should not be preferred, considering the Saints do not have the luxury of having them sit and develop; whoever the Saints draft at OT must start immediately. Underhill also noted that while Taliese Fuaga was the only one of the linemen who he evaluated who played more than 75 college snaps in the outside zone (and he excelled in them), some believe Fuaga projects to be a guard, which would not bode well if the Saints view him that way.

Recent draft trends for the Saints include focusing on high RAS players, so it’s fair to question whether the Saints would risk taking JC Latham, who did not test athletically due to an injury.

In addition to 9+ RAS athletes, beat writer Luke Johnson revealed that five of the last seven Saints draft picks were team captains, so this may be a point of emphasis, especially considering Dennis Allen’s leadership hasn’t exactly been unanimously well perceived.

If the Saints do not select OL, then the defensive line is the next best bet. The Saints only recorded 34 sacks last season (T-29th), averaging a paltry two per game. DE isn’t an immediate need in 2024, but DEs Chase Young, Tanoh Kpassagnon and Payton Turner all have expiring contracts in 2025, not to mention this may be Cam Jordan’s final year.

Therefore, a DE like Dallas Turner or Jared Verse would be attractive options if they are the best available players. Although, it’s hard to believe the Saints, a team in win-now mode with a coach arguably on the hot seat this season, drafts for a 2025 need, however prevalent it may be. Saints DL coach Todd Grantham got an up-close look at Texas DT Byron Murphy II at Texas Pro Day. Director of college scouting Jeff Ireland was in attendance. Murphy would immediately plug and play as a starter unlike a DE. However, the Saints drafted a DT in round one last year.

TE Brock Bowers is an interesting wild card if he falls this year. Dennis Allen stated, "A pass catcher. Not necessarily a wide receiver, but a pass catcher is something that we will continue to look at."

I have the Saints’ targets for Pick 14 as follows: Olu Fashanu, JC Latham, Taliese Fuaga, Troy Fautanu, Brock Bowers, Byron Murphy II, Dallas Turner

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15. TE Brock Bowers (Georgia)

Indianapolis Colts

Most likely range for Bowers: 10-19
Most likely destinations for Bowers: NYJ, DEN, NO, IND, CIN, LAR
Team needs: CB, WR, S

The Colts have placed a massive emphasis on high RAS players, with only QB Sam Ehlinger receiving below an 8.50 RAS in the last three drafts (15+ players), and sources indicate that the Colts want to get "more explosive" on both sides of the ball.

Accordingly, WR coach Reggie Wayne traveled to Texas’ pro day, one of two he attended, to watch speedsters Adonai Mitchell and Xavier Worthy. In fact, the Colts have met with Worthy twice, including a “30” visit.

A speedy WR could replace Alec Pierce and give Anthony Richardson an ideal 3-WR set. We should also assume that Brian Thomas Jr. (4.33 ’40, 9+ RAS) is in the mix if not a primary target. It’s worth noting that the Colts spent a second-round pick on Pierce a few years ago, so the team has already invested heavily in the position.

Similarly, I’m hearing the Colts are very high on TE Brock Bowers as a short-range playmaker who would help the offense. Despite his lack of testing, this feels close to Bowers’ floor. Peter Schrager floated out that the Colts may trade up for WR Malik Nabers, which is substantiated by the emphasis on acquiring explosive players. While I consider this unlikely, it lends credence to the notion that the Colts want an explosive playmaker early on. Thomas or Worthy seems like the perfect “Plan B” options and could allow the Colts to trade down.

Early in the process, owner Jim Irsay joked that he wanted GM Chris Ballard to get WR Marvin Harrison Jr. to Indy, but then added, "Although the Alabama guy doesn't look bad." He's likely referring to CB Terrion Arnold.

The Colts have a pretty significant need at CB2 opposite Julius Brents with Kenny Moore playing nickel. I do believe the Colts are interested in Arnold, but I’m unsure if his relatively disappointing 40-yard-dash time will be held against him by a GM who exclusively drafts elite athletes, whereas Quinyon Mitchell is a 9+ RAS CB who would check the boxes for the Colts. CB Cooper DeJean also fits the profile.

The Colts were in the running for trading for star CB L'Jarius Snead but lost out to the Titans, highlighting that they want to upgrade the position. Mitchell would be my bet for the Colts if they go corner.

I have the Colts’ targets for Pick 15 as follows: Brock Bowers, Brian Thomas Jr., Quinyon Mitchell, Terrion Arnold, Cooper DeJean, Xavier Worthy

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16. OT Troy Fautanu (Washington)

Seattle Seahawks

Most likely range for Fautanu: 14-24
Most likely destinations for Fautanu: NO, SEA, CIN, LAR, PIT, MIA, DAL
Team needs: OG, LB, DL, S

"This is a need on our team right now. I think it's fairly obvious," GM Schneider said about the O-line. The Seahawks starting O-line made 57 of a possible 85 starts (27th). It’s worth noting that the team signed OT George Fant to serve as insurance in case RT Lucas is not healthy. There are some low-end options at center, but at least one guard spot is up for grabs (some would argue both).

Consequently, some experts are connecting OG Graham Barton to Seattle. However, most of the dot-connecting leads to OT Troy Fautanu. New offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb and OL coach Scott Huff just coached Fautanu at Washington, so he's clearly a scheme fit. Fautanu has the versatility to start at RT seeing as Lucas is coming off a major injury, or he could start immediately at LG.

Fautanu is 23, which is OK because GM John Schneider has had a history of drafting older prospects.

In his introductory press conference, head coach Mike Macdonald called new offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb an offensive line coach “at heart.” Grubb called a lot of zone concepts at Washington, which makes Fuaga a seamless fit. Dane Brugler noted in his prolific draft guide that Fuaga would excel in a zone-based system, and some teams view him as a guard. One counter argument toward Fuaga and Fautanu that is worth noting, however, that Schneider has been quoted to say, “Guards are over drafted, and in my opinion, overpaid.”

Neither the defensive line nor the defensive backfield is settled. Considering the deep O-line class, however, the defensive-minded Macdonald may want a movable chess piece to build his defense up for Ravens standards. Using this logic, many film gurus have theorized that Cooper DeJean would be an exceptional fit to play a hybrid S/CB/NCB role.

Many reports have stated that several teams view DeJean as a safety. Seattle has hosted DEs Jared Verse and Chop Robinson on “30” visits. Jared Verse falls within range of this pick, and Robinson could be had in a trade-down situation. Though the team extended DT Leonard Williams, word on the draft streets is that Byron Murphy II will not get past Pick 16. Regardless, the Seahawks are widely viewed as a prime trade-down candidate due to a lack of draft capital.

Expect Seattle to avoid players with major red flags. The Seahawks have shown an aversion toward character risks since Schneider drafted Malik McDowell in the second round in 2017; he followed suit by passing on DT Jalen Carter, who was widely considered to be Seattle’s target at No. 5.

I have the Seahawks’ targets for Pick 16 as follows: Byron Murphy II, Dallas Turner, Taliese Fuaga, Jared Verse … Trade Down: Troy Fautanu, Cooper DeJean, Chop Robinson

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17. CB Kool-Aid McKinstry (Alabama)

Jacksonville Jaguars

Most likely range for McKinstry: 17-Rd. 2
Most likely destinations for McKinstry: JAX, PHI, GB, ARI, TB, DET, BAL
Team needs: CB, DL, WR

Beat writer John Shipley noted that Jaguars' GM Trent Baalke has avoided drafting WRs in the early rounds during his long history as a GM. Furthermore, Joe Although the Jaguars lost WR Calvin Ridley, the team spent plenty of money to sign Gabe Davis to pair with the highly-paid Christian Kirk. Last year, Jacksonville also signed receiving TE Evan Engram to a long-term deal. WR Devin Duvernay was also added.

In sum, although there may be public perception to draft a WR like Brian Thomas Jr. here to replace Ridley, I do not think the organization agrees, especially when Gabe Davis and Thomas are somewhat similar types of players. Interestingly, Chad Forbes reported that the Jaguars are one of the teams heavily interested in Adonai Mitchell, calling Mitchell an option at No. 17. Again, taking a WR would represent a departure from Baalke’s long history as a decision maker.

I view cornerback as a position that the Jaguars would be more likely to address here than wide receiver. Baalke’s press conference stressed the concept that the Jaguars will focus on needs early, and it was easy to infer that cornerback was a major need. The Jaguars added CB Ronald Darby as a veteran presence to complement Tyson Campbell, but Campbell is entering the last year of his contract. Moreover, the team would not owe Darby a substantial sum if Darby is released next year. The future at the CB position is questionable at best after 2024, and the depth is weak heading into this season.

Defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen prioritizes corners who excel in man and press coverage. Accordingly, Terrion Arnold may be preferred over Quinyon Mitchell, and even Kool-Aid McKinstry should be strongly in play here if both are off the board. Reliable beat writer John Shipley has been firm throughout the draft process that the team should be high on McKinstry. Despite Mitchell being the superior testing athlete, which Baalke probably appreciates, one hesitation that Baalke may have toward Mitchell is that the Toledo product did not play at a Power 5 Conference, which is where Baalke historically drafts from.

Cooper DeJean could fit the athletic profile + Power 5 Conference combination needed, but I suspect Baalke will be keen on both Alabama corners.

The Jags needed some bodies along the offensive and defensive lines (particularly on the interior), but the team seemed to do enough in free agency to at least avoid the need to draft OL or DL in round one. On offense, Jacksonville signed center Mitch Morse and LG Ezra Cleveland to relatively big contracts. On defense, stud DT Arik Armstead was brought in, and Joe Although the team could use a DE3 behind starters Josh Allen and Travon Walker. I think the team's recent Armstead addition, along with the fact that Walker was the No. 1 overall pick two years ago, will dissuade them from taking a D-lineman here.

We cannot completely rule out OL or DL here, but I consider it unlikely at this point. If the team does go that route, arm length will always be a priority for Baalke. He has never drafted a DL on Day 1 with 34.3-inch or shorter arms.

Accordingly, Anthony Amico believes that if Dallas Turner is off the board, the Jaguars are not going Edge seeing as Jared Verse and Laiatu Latu and Chop Robinson have sub-33.5-inch arms. This is important because the length-loving Baalke has to be infatuated with OT Amarius Mims (6-foot-8, 340 pounds with 36-inch arms and 86.75-inch wingspan).

Mims is projected to go around this area, and he is a sensible pick for Jacksonville considering he would be afforded the luxury of developing behind LT Cam Robinson for a year before taking over at either RT or LT once his contract expires next offseason. Mims and last year’s first-round pick, Anton Harrison Jr., would set Trevor Lawrence up with bookend tackles for the foreseeable future, so I believe Mims is on the team’s radar despite the lack of an immediate need. The team hosted Mims on a “30” visit and checked in on OT Troy Fautanu, as well.

I have the Jaguars’ targets for Pick 17 as follows: Terrion Arnold, Quinyon Mitchell, Kool-Aid McKinstry, Cooper DeJean

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18. OT Taliese Fuaga (Oregon State)

Cincinnati Bengals

Most likely range for Fuaga: 10-18
Most likely destinations for Fuaga: NYJ, LVR, NO, SEA, JAX, CIN, PIT
Team needs: RT, DT, WR, CB

The Bengals replaced RT Jonah Williams with Trent Brown, who personally claimed that he is not worried about the team drafting an offensive lineman with this pick. I'm not ruling it out, however. Brown was only signed for one year, and he's dealt with some injuries recently.

JC Latham and Amarius Mims are logical fits here, and it helps that Cincinnati's offensive line coach perked up when discussing specific players as possible fits. Cincinnati could draft Latham because he would immediately upgrade the left guard position in year one and could slide over to right tackle once Brown's contract expires next year. Similarly, drafting a raw but high-ceiling prospect like Amarius Mims would be sensible because he would be allowed to develop for a year behind Brown before taking over as a starter next season.

Bengals insider Joe Goodberry stated on April 3 that Amarius Mims was his most likely pick at 18, but he also stated the Fautanu falling to No. 18 would be optimal. Mims has met with the Bengals twice, including a private meeting with Bengals. My inclination is that the Bengals are very high on him. Additionally, Latham could be a hit because, according to Ben Fennell, both the Bengals' blocking scheme and Latham’s skillset are mainly vertical, gap/man blocking. Protecting Joe Burrow remains paramount.

Moreover, the Bengals have not been shy about drafting a position that is not an immediate team need but will be in the future (see Myles Murphy in 2023 and Dax Hill in 2022). However, we should still keep Taliese Fuaga and Troy Fautanu in play. Cincinnati has done so much homework on this OL class, hosting Fuaga, Fautanu, and Mims on “30” visits. They met with Latham at the combine. I have a tough time envisioning Cincinnati passing on Fuaga if he slides here.

Along the defensive line, the Bengals replaced DT D.J. Reader with Sheldon Rankins in free agency, but DT B.J. Hill's contract expires next offseason. DE Trey Hendrickson is also a free agent in 2025, but the team drafted DE Myles Murphy in the first round last April. The D-line could be bolstered by drafting Murphy, who I believe would be a nice consolation prize if the desired OT is not on the board. Cincinnati also hosted DT Johnny Newton on a ”30” visit, sneaking it in on the last day, which is intriguing. It seems like the interest is real.

WR Tyler Boyd is set to depart in free agency, and Tee Higgins may not be far behind if he gets traded. It was reported that Higgins and the Bengals are at a standstill in contract negotiations heading into the draft. The team's emphasis on high R.A.S. players could make WR Brian Thomas Jr. an option here. LSU legend Ja’Marr Chase would likely welcome this with open arms. Similarly, Cincinnati would likely end a TE Brock Bowers slide.

Cincinnati lost CB Chidobe Awuzie in free agency, but there is reason to believe that Dax Hill is moving to cornerback based on the team signing safeties Vonn Bell and Geno Stone to play with Jordan Battle. That being said, depth is needed here. Joe Goodberry pointed out that CB4 snaps for Bengals in the last four years have been 607, 1242, 788 and 827, and Bengals don't currently have a CB4. For these reasons, the team may be hard-pressed to bypass CBs Quinyon Mitchell or Terrion Arnold.

Ultimately, the Bengals are sitting pretty in a nice spot in the draft where they can allow talented players at various positions of need to fall to them.

I have the Bengals’ targets for Pick 18 as follows: Brock Bowers, JC Latham, Taliese Fuaga, Byron Murphy II, Terrion Arnold, Quinyon Mitchell, Amarius Mims, Troy Fautanu, Johnny Newton

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19. WR Xavier Worthy (Texas)

Los Angeles Rams

Most likely range for Worthy: 21-Round 2
Most likely destinations for Worthy: IND, MIA, BUF, KC
Team needs: DL, S, LT, WR

Sean McVay didn't go to the combine and said the most important thing is what the tape looks like, so that’s important to keep in mind when mocking a player to the Rams.

The money that Rams spent on OL in free agency (re: Jonah Jackson and re-signing Kevin Dotson) as well as DB (S Kam Curl and CB Darious Williams) indicates that DL is the best bet to be primarily addressed in the draft. Consequently, I assume that the Rams will be in on DEs Jared Verse and Laiatu Latu and possibly Chop Robinson.

Tony Pauline reported that the Rams are one of the teams that have medically cleared Latu, which greatly increases the odds he would be the pick here if available. Combined with the theory that McVay prioritizes film over other aspects in evaluation, Laiatu Latu should be a viable target here. Rams DEs Byron Young and Michael Hoecht each played 900+ snaps and cannot be relied upon to do so again, if for no other reason than health regression.

Furthermore, GM Snead indicated that Hoecht could land in a more situational role, per beat writer Jourdan Rodrigue. In fact, when Rodrigue asked about cornerbacks, GM Snead brought up pressure issues. "They got a lot of experience. There were some ups and downs with them. I think that in some of the down moments, we did not pressure the quarterback as much as we had in the past." These comments suggest that the Rams want to improve the pass rush this offseason.

What amplifies the need to do so, of course, is the retirement of Hall of Fame DT Aaron Donald. Thus, the Rams are an extremely logical destination for DT Byron Murphy II.

If the preferred D-linemen are not available, the Rams should look to help in the defensive backfield, as the team could use help at CB or S. Andrew Erickson noted that the Rams have tended to draft cornerbacks who tackle well. This brings Cooper DeJean, Terrion Arnold, and Ennis Rakestraw Jr. to light.

Interestingly, Peter Schrager predicted in his first mock “something of a guarantee” that “if the Rams do not trade back, you better believe Sean McVay’s first-ever first-round selection will be an offensive player.” This goes completely against the grain, yet he uses strong language. As a noted friend of Sean McVay and Kliff Kingsbury, Schrager’s connection with the Rams and Cardinals has been established in the past, so this shouldn’t be dismissed.

If the Rams go in the offensive direction, my expectation would be either whichever great OT slips through the cracks or a WR like Brian Thomas Jr. Dark-horse selections include Texas WRs Xavier Worthy and Adonai Mitchell. Adam Schefter predicted on the ETR podcast that Mitchell will be selected a lot earlier than people think, saying that it would not be in the backend of the first as many have projected. Cooper Kupp is 30 and the mileage has taken a toll on his body. Adding a deep threat is sensible considering Stafford’s arm and the fact that it could complement and provide space for both Kupp and Puka Nacua.

The Rams have hosted OT Troy Fautanu on a “30” visit, one of the only ones they have used on a projected first-round pick. If the Rams go with a tackle, it needs to be one who can play left tackle; as stated above, the team already invested heavily in their interior offensive line, and Rob Havenstein is a solid starter at RT.

I have the Rams’ targets for Pick 19 as follows: Brock Bowers, Byron Murphy II, Dallas Turner, Jared Verse, Troy Fautanu, Amarius Mims, Laiatu Latu, Quinyon Mitchell, Terrion Arnold, Cooper DeJean, Xavier Worthy

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20. OG Graham Barton (Duke)

Pittsburgh Steelers

Most likely range for Barton: 20-31
Most likely destinations for Barton: SEA, PIT, MIA, PHI, DAL, GB, TB, ARI
Team needs: QB, OT, C, CB, WR

The Steelers are one of the few teams in the NFL that almost always meet with and travel to the pro day of their eventual first-round pick. For instance, Pittsburgh met with last year’s first-round pick OT Broderick Jones multiple times. Therefore, from a mocking perspective, it’s a bad bet to mock a player here whom the team has not shown transparent interest in.

Accordingly, the team has hosted a “30” visit with a league-high 16 of the top 50 projected prospects already, notably OTs Taliese Fuaga, JC Latham, Troy Fautanu, Tyler Guyton, and Amarius Mims, G Graham Barton, C Powers-Johnson and Zach Frazier, WR Adonai Mitchell, CBs Nate Wiggins and Cooper DeJean and DT Darius Robinson. This includes multiple visits for Mims and Barton.

Jones played with Amarius Mims at Georgia. Head coach Mike Tomlin said work needs to be done at center and receiver. He also clarified that there are many WRs in the draft that can contribute ASAP, but after a couple of centers in the draft, it will likely not be a plug-and-play situation.

Predictably, the Steelers are rumored to be "big admirers" of centers Jackson Powers-Johnson and Zach Frazier. However, many believe that at least one of these centers could be available in the second round, while Graham Barton must be selected in the first.

Dane Brugler noted that some teams see Barton as the top center in the class. Barton is a sensible selection as a versatile lineman who can play center immediately (he played center as a freshman at Duke) and can also fill in at right tackle in a pinch. Tony Pauline suggested that speculation around the league is that Graham Barton could be the pick here.

Despite drafting Jones last year, the Steelers have placed a lot of attention to this year’s crop of round-one tackles. After perusing through the Steelers beat, I think Plan A is to address right tackle in the first round, moving OT Broderick Jones to left tackle in a corresponding move. Pittsburgh then will hope that a center like Zach Frazier will slide into round two before addressing CB and WR in rounds 3-7. If the team’s preferred OT isn’t on the board, I expect the Steelers to select Graham Barton or CB Cooper DeJean.

Defensive back is a need here, too. The team traded for CB Donte Jackson, but his contract expires next offseason. CB Patrick Peterson remains a free agent. A Reddit user (yeah, we’re diving deep into the weeds here) observed that Pittsburgh has drafted three CBs under defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, and all are at least 6-foot-1, 192 pounds with at least 32 inches in arm length, which in theory rules out Nate Wiggins (173 pounds with 30.5-inch arms). The “30” visit means something, but I would assume Pittsburgh has Cooper DeJean higher on its board than Wiggins.

I have the Steelers’ targets for Pick 20 as follows: Taliese Fuaga, Amarius Mims, Graham Barton, Troy Fautanu, Tyler Guyton, Cooper DeJean, Nate Wiggins

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21. DE Jared Verse (FSU)

Miami Dolphins

Most likely range for Verse: 9-21
Most likely destinations for Verse: CHI, DEN, NO, LAR, MIA
Team needs: OG, CB, DT

Both offensive guard spots are seemingly wide open for competition, representing the most glaring need for the Dolphins. Moreover, LT Terron Armstead (32) misses games annually and has already begun thinking about retirement. Miami should be open to Troy Fautanu and Graham Barton as guards, but in reality, the Dolphins should be pleased with whichever top O-line prospect slides. It’s likely that one will.

Andrew Erickson noted that no team is spending less across the D-line than Miami, yet GM Chris Grier has shown a willingness to draft pass rushers high. In fact, Miami drafted D-line first in three of the last five drafts when Miami had a first-round pick. The team drafted a pass rusher in the second round of another during that span.

One of those high picks was Jaelen Phillips, who had medical red flags coming out that the Dolphins didn’t seem to mind. Likewise, Miami could be amenable to Laiatu Latu despite his medical concerns. Miami has hosted Laiatu Latu and Jared Verse on "30" visits. Miami lost DT Christian Wilkins in free agency and added some reinforcements, but they aren’t of the caliber to preclude taking Byron Murphy II.

What makes the pass rush more of a priority is all of the late-season injuries to Miami’s starters. Both Jaelen Phillips and Bradley Chubb are coming off major knee injuries, and the team lost DE Andrew Van Ginkel in free agency. Also, both Phillips and Shaq Barrett have expiring contracts in 2025.

Believe it or not, some have made a valid argument that the Dolphins could take a WR here. First, there is nothing behind Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, and the Dolphins play in a pass-happy offense that would be hindered significantly if Hill or Waddle missed time due to their target share (note that Hill and Waddle sub out constantly, more than normal starting WRs). Second, Waddle’s contract expires next offseason, and Hill is 30. Third, there may be receivers available in this range, including Brian Thomas Jr., Adonai Mitchell and Xavier Worthy. HC Mike McDaniel, who is clearly obsessed with speed, seemed particularly giddy while taking to Worthy at the combine.

I have the Dolphins’ targets for Pick 21 as follows: Dallas Turner, Jared Verse, Laiatu Latu, Byron Murphy II, Graham Barton, Johnny Newton, Troy Fautanu, Brian Thomas Jr., Xavier Worthy

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22. OT Amarius Mims (UGA)

Philadelphia Eagles

Most likely range for Mims: 17-22
Most likely destinations for Mims: JAX, CIN, LAR, PIT, MIA
Team needs: CB, RG, LB

The Eagles do not have a ton of major needs on paper, but the team will have to address its second-half collapse, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Furthering the concept that this pick will be a defender is the fact that the team’s new defensive coordinator is Vic Fangio. Fangio has prioritized linebackers in past stints, but there are not any to warrant such a selection here.

In Fangio’s scheme, cornerbacks will be needed to hold up in coverage. Though Philadelphia has not taken a round-one CB since 2002, the team should be open to one here, seeing as the D-line is pretty loaded. PHI only recorded 10 INTs last season and allowed opposing quarterbacks to accrue a 97 QB Rating (29th).

While many expert mockers have slotted Nate Wiggins here to the Eagles, I disagree with this notion. Wiggins carries a lot of concerns, including his size, tackling and maturity questions. If the Eagles take a cornerback, I believe it’s more likely to be Kool-Aid McKinstry. Brugler compared McKinstry to James Bradberry, who the former could be replacing. Also, the Eagles have drafted nine SEC players in the last three drafts.

It’s also worth posing the idea that because the Eagles are in win-now mode, they could move up for CB like Terrion Arnold or Quinyon Mitchell if either slide into the teens. In fact, both reliable beat writer Jimmy Kempski and Daniel Jeremiah substantiated this claim, mentioning those two cornerbacks as potential targets.

If not, Philadelphia has hosted CB Cooper DeJean on a “30” visit; DeJean’s versatility (i.e. the ability to play safety) could be extremely valuable here. It’s easy to see why the Eagles would love DeJean. I give deference to Twitter’s HonestNFL, a scheme guru who provided film-based evidence to support the claim that the two corners who best fit Vic Fangio’s defense are Terrion Arnold and Cooper DeJean.

Another direction the Eagles could go in is addressing the O-line. Arguably, doing so would have the most immediate impact. With Jason Kelce’s retirement, the Eagles have a hole to fill at either center or guard, depending on which position RG Cam Jurgens does not play. Kempski suggested that it's doubtful Philly drafts an interior lineman who doesn't have a chance to play tackle, replacing Lane Johnson in the future.

In addition, Kempski said that the Eagles probably shouldn't "screw around" and play Amarius Mims or Tyler Guyton at guard before eventually replacing Johnson because those prospects are projects already. Kempski’s remarks lead me to believe that Graham Barton makes a ton of sense here. This pick is considered within Barton’s range as well.

What’s interesting, though, is that after dismissing Mims as a target in his first “mailbag,” Kempski listed Mims as a top-five most likely pick for Philadelphia in his second. This could be a result of acquired intel. Mims is extremely raw and makes the most sense for a team that can afford to sit and develop him for a year before starting him. In that scenario, Mims would get this luxury of working behind Johnson until he’s ready.

By the same logic, JC Latham was also mentioned as a possible pick. He’d have the added benefit of being able to start at guard initially before graduating to right tackle when Johnson retires. Hayden Winks astutely pointed out that Tyler Guyton is a friend of Johnson, who’s actually serving as a mentor for him. The connection carries more weight when considering the Eagles gave deference to C Jason Kelce in choosing Cam Jurgens as his eventual successor.

Ultimately, I expect the Eagles to be aggressive in their Super Bowl window. Trading up seems more likely than not, but it’s very possible that DeJean or one of these developmental O-linemen fall here.

Finally, while the D-line appears equipped, we should not rule out the position, considering that Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat are entering contract years. The team has had “30” visits with DEs Laiatu Latu and Chop Robinson.

I have the Eagles’ targets for Pick 22 as follows: Trade Up: Taliese Fuaga, JC Latham, Terrion Arnold, Quinyon Mitchell, Amarius Mims … Cooper DeJean, Graham Barton, Tyler Guyton, Chop Robinson, Kool-Aid McKinstry

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23. CB Quinyon Mitchell (Toledo)

Minnesota Vikings

Most likely range for Mitchell: 8-22
Most likely destinations for Mitchell: ATL, IND, JAX, PHI
Team needs: QB, CB, DE, DT

This pick seems likely to be dealt in Minnesota’s trade-up pursuit of a high-end quarterback, so savvy mockers are going to slot a player who fits within this range and also makes sense for both Minnesota and probable trade partners, including the Patriots, Cardinals, and Chargers.

Thus, I think it’s prudent to mock a defender here as opposed to a wide receiver because the Cardinals and Vikings (if they retain the pick) would not go that route. The main commonality is that four of these teams need to bolster their pass rush, so mocking a D-lineman here seems like a sound strategy.

If the team is able to retain the pick, the Vikings aggressively pursued DT Christian Wilkins in free agency and could still use reinforcements along the D-line. The Vikings top three DTs (Harrison Phillips, Jonathan Bullard and Jerry Tillery) all have expiring contracts in 2025, leaving the room empty next year.

DTs Byron Murphy II or Johnny Newton are sensible selections. The Vikings seemed to love Murphy, though he should go earlier. Though the team signed DEs Andrew Van Ginkel and Jonathan Greenard, the team may not be finished adding pass rushers either as there is not much valuable depth behind them.

There are holes in the secondary despite the fact that the Vikings have poured recent capital in the unit. Head coach Kevin O'Connell specifically stated, "We want to get to a place where we play more man coverage." The team signed CB Shaq Griffin, but the work may not be done.

I have the Vikings’ targets for Pick 23 as follows: Quinyon Mitchell, Chop Robinson, Johnny Newton, CB Nate Wiggins

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24. OT Tyler Guyton (Oklahoma)

Dallas Cowboys

Most likely range for Guyton: 21-32
Most likely destinations for Guyton: MIA, PHI, DAL, GB, DAL, BAL, SF, KC
Team needs: LT, CB, C, LB, RB

The Cowboys tend to meet with their first-round pick, and the team has had “30” visits with the following notable players: OT Taliese Fuaga, OT Troy Fautanu, OG Graham Barton, C Jackson Powers-Johnson, OT Kingsley Suamataia, DT Byron Murphy II, DT Darius Robinson and LB Edgerrin Cooper. Barton and Cooper have met with the team twice, while Dallas interviewed OTs Amarius Mims, Tyler Guyton, and JC Latham at the combine.

Apparently, the focus is bolstering the trenches. Along the O-line, LT Tyron Smith departed in free agency, along with C Tyler Biadasz. RG Zack Martin is a free agent in 2025. RT Terence Steele struggled last season. It’s unclear whether the Cowboys are moving LG Tyler Smith to LT next season, so the argument can be made that the Cowboys need a tackle, a guard, AND a center.

I believe Graham Barton would be the preferred pick due to his versatility. Despite the fact that Dallas did not have them in for “30s,” OTs Tyler Guyton and Jordan Morgan make sense, too. The team has shown interest in Morgan at the combine, and Marcus Mosher predicted on March 9 that Tyler Guyton is “very likely” to be the pick for the Cowboys.

Along the D-line, the main issue was run defense. Although the Cowboys drafted DT Mazi Smith in the first round last year, he wasn’t exactly a stud, and DTs Neville Gallimore and Johnathan Hankins are free agents. Accordingly, doubling down on DT could be in play, especially if Murphy slides. Again, the team visited with DL Darius Robinson. It’s quite possible that the front office blames the run defense’s failure on the linebacking corps rather than the D-line.

Per Scott Smith, LB Edgerrin Cooper would be an option if the Cowboys decide to move Tyler Smith to LT permanently. Micah Parsons noted the need for a strong linebacker at the beginning of the offseason. Dallas signed LB Eric Kendricks, but it’s only a one-year deal, and Leighton Vander Esch retired.

Albeit unlikely, I do think WR is at least somewhat in play. Hayden Winks made a compelling argument for a WR in his mock, stating that fans are critical of Jerry Jones not making a splash pick. Dallas is built to win now. WR Brandin Cooks is in the final year of his contract, and Michael Gallup was released. For these reasons, a flashy (and local) WR like Adonai Mitchell or Xavier Worthy or LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr. could be just what the doctor ordered; all would complement CeeDee Lamb perfectly.

I have the Cowboys’ targets for Pick 24 as follows: Troy Fautanu, Graham Barton, Tyler Guyton, Jordan Morgan

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25. CB Cooper DeJean (Iowa)

Green Bay Packers

Most likely range for DeJean: 19-30
Most likely destinations for DeJean: LAR, PHI, DAL, GB, TB, ARI, DET, BAL
Team needs: CB, S, OG

While the Packers are notorious for drafting players who earn a 9+ RAS, many mockers do not grasp how GM Brian Guntekunst has equally prioritized younger prospects.

As Zach Kruse pointed out, the Packers' first selection in every draft since 2018 has been 21 years old, with the exception of CB Eric Stokes, who was 22, in 2021. Thus, we are looking for younger prospects (21 and under) with a 9+ RAS. In addition, it’s important to not factor in whom Green Bay visits with because they do not typically visit with their eventual first-round pick.

Cornerback is a major need, and Cooper DeJean is the CB who stands out when considering these thresholds. The Packers have a history of drafting Iowa defensive players (Micah Hyde, Mike Daniels, Josh Jackson and Lukas Van Ness last year). Van Ness is buddies with DeJean (Iowa).

Green Bay spent big on safety Xavier McKinney in free agency after their starters signed elsewhere. Furthermore, GM Guntekunst said that he "prefers a younger player with his best football ahead of him" to pair with McKinney. It’s possible that the Packers value his versatility (ability to play safety) and plan to play him there.

If DeJean is not available, CBs Kool-Aid McKinstry and Nate Wiggins are options. However, Wiggins did not do agility testing, and Peter Bukowski noted that the Packers have not selected a player in round under Guntekunst who has not done agility drills. This would also seemingly eliminate McKinstry, who did not test enough to get an RAS due to an injury.

Working in Wiggins' favor, however, is the fact that he is only 20 years old. Green Bay only intercepted seven passes last season (31st), so I believe the secondary will be priority No. 1.

This would make patching up the O-line priority No. 2. The Packers O-line made only 66 of a possible 85 (19th) and needs to replace RG Jon Runyan Jr. I do not believe newly acquired Andre Dillard moves the needle here as he has not for other teams he has played for thus far.

Though Green Bay has not drafted an OT in Round 1 in 15-ish years, there are some OL prospects who fit the aforementioned athletic and age thresholds, notably OG Graham Barton and OT Tyler Guyton are matches.

I have the Packers’ targets for Pick 25 as follows: Graham Barton, Tyler Guyton, Cooper DeJean, Nate Wiggins, Kool-Aid McKinstry, Jordan Morgan

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26. C Jackson Powers-Johnson (Oregon)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Most likely range for Powers-Johnson: 21-Round 2
Most likely destinations for Powers-Johnson: MIA, DAL, TB, DET, BAL
Team needs: iOL, CB, DE, LB

Like Green Bay, Bucs GM Jason Licht has also targeted high-RAS players in the first round. However, Licht has put a recent emphasis on high character prospects: "I think we've done a great job of identifying that with our character grade. We put a lot of stock into that. When we see players getting into trouble, suspended, or whatever, I'll look it up, and yep, we had a do not touch grade on them… We want guys who are passionate about the game, want guys that are resilient and can deal with adversity,” said Licht.

This emphasis on character makes me inclined to believe that Tampa Bay’s selection will be a player who has visited with the team at least once.

The three main areas of concern for Tampa Bay are interior offensive line, cornerback and defensive end. At DE, a replacement for Shaq Barrett is needed. DE Anthony Nelson is also a free agent, and he was only replaced by Randy Gregory, who played only four games last year and is on a 1-year deal. Hayden Winks observed that DE Chop Robinson's first visit at the Ccmbine was with Tampa. Albert Breer mentioned Robinson as a possibility here, too, and the team has also met with DE Jared Verse privately.

At cornerback, Tampa Bay traded Carlton Davis but added Bryce Hall and Tavierre Thomas, though they are only signed for one year. I could see Tampa Bay wanting to fortify the future at the position if the right cornerback is available, but I consider DE more likely than CB based on the interest the team has shown and the DEs expected to be available near this range.

Despite this, I consider the interior offensive line the most likely position that the Bucs will attack here. Vacancies exist at both LG and C. The Bucs only signed guards Ben Bredeson and Sua Opeta this offseason to fill in. Both are not reliable starters and should be viewed as depth pieces, and both are signed for only one year. Meanwhile, C Robert Hainsey and RG Cody Mauch struggled last year. The interior offensive line’s struggles are amplified, considering QB Baker Mayfield’s tendency to bail right out of the pocket when pressured.

Chad Forbes reported that the Bucs wanted C Jackson Powers-Johnson, stating there have been rumblings about this since the Senior Bowl where JPJ was dominant. “They clearly love the player,” said Forbes. There’s certainly a connection there, and JPJ is expected to be available.

Another player I expect the Bucs to covet, even more than JPJ, is G Graham Barton. I consider Tampa Bay Barton’s floor, so it’s possible that Tampa Bay would trade up a few spots to get in a better position for him (in theory, jumping Green Bay is likely necessary).

Linebacker will also likely be addressed at some point in the draft. While Tampa Bay did host LB Edgerrin Cooper on a “30” visit, it’s unlikely that they will tackle this position on Day 1.

I have the Buccaneers’ targets for Pick 26 as follows: Graham Barton, Chop Robinson, Kool-Aid McKinstry, Jackson Powers-Johnson

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27. DT Darius Robinson (Missouri)

Arizona Cardinals (via Houston Texans)

Most likely range for Robinson: No. 29-Round 2
Most likely destinations for Robinson: ARI, DET, SF
Team needs: WR, CB, DE, LG

Along the O-line, Arizona addressed left tackle by adding Jonah Williams in free agency, bookending last year’s first-round pick Paris Johnson Jr. However, left guard is still a major question mark. LG Elijah Wilkinson, C Hjalte Froholdt and C Evan Brown are all free agents in 2025.

One option is Jordan Morgan, a local product and an athletic prospect who has the feet to play in Arizona's pull-heavy rushing offense, per Hayden Winks. Morgan has met with the team privately and not many others. Many teams view Morgan as a guard, and it is expected that OG Graham Barton is unavailable for No. 27, making Jordan the next best thing. Because of the aforementioned expiring contracts, I don’t think it’s wise to rule out center. I get the feeling that Arizona still believes it has work to do shoring up its O-line.

Arizona only recorded 33 sacks last season (30th), so the D-line is also a primary concern. Head coach Jonathan Gannon is a defensive coach and while the team signed some low-end defensive tackles in free agency, little has been done to bolster the pass rush. DE Zaven Collins and Dennis Gardeck are entering the final years of their contracts, making DE more of a priority.

Accordingly, Peter Schrager, who was at least once very plugged into Arizona, recently mocked Darius Robinson here over similarly projected DLs like DE Chop Robinson and DT Johnny Newton. Further, Todd McShay called Darius Robinson a “first-round lock.”

Cornerback also stands out as a need despite the recent move to acquire Sean Murphy-Bunting. An infusion of talent is greatly needed at CB with the two best bets for this range being Kool-Aid McKinstry and Nate Wiggins.

I have the Cardinals’ targets for Pick 27 as follows: Darius Robinson, Laiatu Latu, Chop Robinson, Johnny Newton, Jordan Morgan, Kool-Aid McKinstry

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28. WR Brian Thomas Jr. (LSU)

Buffalo Bills

Most likely range for Thomas: 15-28
Most likely destinations for Thomas: IND, LAR, MIA, BUF
Team needs: WR, DE, C, DT

Most experts in the mock draft space are well aware of the Bills’ need at WR with arrows pointing toward Brian Thomas Jr. However, many assume this will require trading up, which is feasible. For instance, Anthony Amico observed that GM Brandon Beane often trades up to get his guy, citing four different drafts in his relatively brief tenure where Beane has done so early.

I’m not so sure that a trade-up will be necessary, though. Per Scott Smith, medical concerns and reports that surgery is needed to address a labrum issue could cause Thomas to slide. When asked which WRs in this draft class he likes, QB Josh Allen mentioned Thomas and Adonai Mitchell initially and grouped them together before naming others. Allen studies the draft’s top pass catchers each year and tells GM Beane who he likes. Notably, Allen’s advice was a reason that Buffalo drafted TE Dalton Kincaid last April.

Beane was quoted on what traits they are looking for in WRs in this draft: “Smart and versatile. Does the skill set offset what is already on the roster?” Beane specifically mentioned good hands and run-after-catch ability. This was prior to trading star WR Stefon Diggs. The Bills did sign Curtis Samuel, likely to play primarily in the slot. TE Dalton Kincaid is expected to take a larger role in the offense in his second season, so we are really looking for an outside WR who has good hands and excels after the catch.

Thomas, Mitchell and Xavier Worthy seem like the most likely options. The team hosted Worthy on a “30” visit, and Jayden Daniels predicted Buffalo as the landing spot for teammate Thomas live on social media. If Thomas is unavailable, trading down is an option, too. The Bills are not exactly flush with draft capital, and there are a slew of second-round WRs in a deep class that can start from Day 1 in Buffalo.

Troy Franklin is a name to watch here as the Bills have shown significant interest in him. Ladd McConkey is another early second-round WR that Buffalo has met with.

Center remains wide open, and Buffalo could attack the position in Rd. 1 with a player like Zach Frazier or Jackson Powers-Johnson, at least one of whom should be available. Many Bills fans can see GM Beane loving Frazier specifically. Albert Breer agrees, mentioning Frazier as a candidate here. I think Frazier is a dark horse for Buffalo, perhaps in a trade-back scenario. “If we are going to stretch ourselves financially, it’s going to be in the trenches,” Beane stated. Buffalo currently does not have a starting center after losing longtime starter Mitch Morse.

Another strong positional bet, if the Bills bypass WR, is selecting a defensive lineman. DEs Leonard Floyd and Shaq Lawson departed. DE A.J. Epenesa and Von Miller are best served in a rotation. Perhaps more concerning is that DTs Tim Settle, DaQuan Jones, Jordan Phillips, Poona Ford, and Linval Joseph are all free agents. That’s a lot of bodies leaving the D-line room.

This pick falls in a range where several D-linemen project to be selected, including DTs Johnny Newton and Darius Robinson, as well as DE Chop Robinson.

I have the Bills’ targets for Pick 28 as follows: Cooper DeJean, Brian Thomas Jr., Xavier Worthy, Laiatu Latu, Johnny Newton, Darius Robinson, Chop Robinson, Troy Franklin, Xavier Legette, Zach Frazier

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29. DT Johnny Newton (Illinois)

Detroit Lions

Most likely range for Newton: 18-Round 2
Most likely destinations for Newton: CIN, MIA, DET, SF
Team needs: iOL, DL, CB

By now, GM Brad Holmes and HC Dan Campbell have made it abundantly clear that the Lions prioritize culture fits above all else, so we should only be mocking high-character players with a dedicated work ethic and passionate playing style to Detroit.

Perusing Dane Brugler’s draft guide is perfect for this kind of task. One player who immediately stood out to me that would fit the personality philosophy here was C Zach Frazier. In fact, Daniel Jeremiah echoed this sentiment about Frazier being a fit here on his pre-draft conference call. Moreover, Peter Schrager mocked Frazier to Detroit in his first mock. Frazier fits a position of emphasis.

Reliable beat writer Jeff Risdon noted that one “constant refrain” from the Lions was how incredibly highly the team values their offensive line as a “base for everything they do.” Shortly after he released the article stating this, the Lions plugged two O-line holes by signing LG Kevin Zeitler and re-signing RG Graham Glasgow. These moves appeared to solidify the unit. However, Zeitler (34) is only signed for one year, and C Frank Ragnow routinely misses practice and contemplated retirement, per Risdon.

Though many reports have indicated that two of the draft’s top two centers – Frazier and Jackson Powers-Johnson – are seen around the league as second-round picks, there are two main reasons Detroit could select them here. First, there’s the aforementioned value the team places on the O-line. Then we have seen Detroit minimize the importance of positional value (see last year’s first-round selections of RB Jahmyr Gibbs and LB Jack Campbell).

Therefore, I believe Detroit will be highly interested in addressing interior offensive line early on, and because there were some work ethic concerns for JPJ in Bob McGinn’s scouting piece, I believe Detroit prefers Frazier > JPJ.

Although Detroit added DT D.J. Reader and DE Marcus Davenport, the D-line could use some reinforcements. Davenport misses games annually (only playing in four last year), and DTs John Cominsky, Alim McNeil and Levi Onquzurike all have expiring contracts next offseason. Getting pass rusher James Houston back healthy after missing most of the season will be an added bonus, but the Lions could benefit if another talented D-lineman was added to the rotation.

This could be a DE, DT or both, seeing as the team tends to value versatility along the D-line. DT Darius Robinson has the versatility the Lions would appreciate, but Risdon pointed out that the team seemed more enamored with DE Marshawn Kneeland. I trust that the Lions love Kneeland enough to consider him with this pick, and albeit controversial in draft circles, I think the Lions could have Kneeland rated higher than Chop Robinson, Darius Robinson, and Johnny Newton.

Speaking of Newton, Brugler notes that Newton is somewhat pigeonholed as a three-technique DT, but I’m confident after reading up on Newton’s personality that Holmes and Campbell will love him. So, the question is whether the Lions would bypass their desire to acquire versatile skill sets in order to draft a strong culture fit.

Cornerback remains a need following Cam Sutton's arrest and subsequent release. Holmes said he's really picky with his CBs. Kool-Aid McKinstry battled through injury, showing toughness that the Lions may appreciate. Nick Saban also coached McKinstry well. McKinstry’s current over/under is 29.5. Conversely, I do not believe the team will be interested in CB Nate Wiggins, who has size, physicality, tackling, and immaturity concerns that should turn off Detroit despite CB2 being needed.

I have the Lions’ targets for Pick 29 as follows: Graham Barton, Kool-Aid McKinstry, Darius Robinson, Johnny Newton, Zach Frazier, Marshawn Kneeland, Jackson Powers-Johnson

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30. DE Chop Robinson (Penn. State)

Baltimore Ravens

Most likely range for Robinson: 19-31
Most likely destinations for Robinson: LAR, PHI, TB, ARI, BAL, SF
Team needs: OG, RT, CB, DE, WR

Baltimore has nice depth at LG, RG, and RT, the three spots open for competition along the O-line, but it feels insignificant for a team that prioritizes the unit. An infusion of talent is imperative for a line returning only two out of five starters after losing three quality starters this offseason.

Fortunately, the Ravens O-line coach has a strong track record in developing O-linemen, and he should be interested in working with athletic prospects such as OTs Tyler Guyton and Jordan Morgan. These are the two names that I’ve seen the Ravens connected to.

The Ravens’ cornerbacks are problematic too. CB Marlon Humphrey is coming off a disappointing, injury-marred season. CB Brandon Stephens is entering the final year of his contract. The team has lost CBs Ronald Darby and Rock Ya-Sin in free agency.

The Ravens still have a nice pipeline connecting the team to Alabama players, so they could pluck CB Kool-Aid McKinstry as a value if he slides due to his injured foot. CB Nate Wiggins is also an option. I consider it quite unlikely that Cooper DeJean will make it to No. 30, but we’ve seen the Ravens benefit from patience time and time again. This would be DeJean’s absolute floor.

The departure of Jadeveon Clowney and the release of Tyus Bowser opened up spots behind Odafe Oweh and Kyle Van Noy. Young talent is needed as Oweh is entering a contract year and Van Noy is 33 years old. DE Chop Robinson, DT Darius Robinson, and DT Johnny Newton could all be in play.

Although offensive coordinator Todd Monken loves throwing, Baltimore's drafting strategy of spending four of the last six first-round picks on a wide receiver seems rather excessive, though, it is worth noting that WR Adonai Mitchell played under Monken at UGA. Additionally, the Ravens hosted WR Xavier Worthy on a “30” visit.

I have the Ravens’ targets for No. 30 as follows: Cooper DeJean, Tyler Guyton, Jordan Morgan, Adonai Mitchell, Chop Robinson, Darius Robinson, Johnny Newton, Kool-Aid McKinstry, Nate Wiggins

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31. QB Michael Penix Jr. (Washington)

Las Vegas Raiders

Most likely range for Penix: 20-Round 2
Most likely destinations for Penix: LVR, SEA, NYG
Team needs: QB, RT, RG, DT, CB, RB

Pierce has vocalized what he wants out of a Raiders draft pick. "I don't want anybody that's entitled, that don't have a little chip on their shoulder. We're not going to mesh. It's just not going to happen. … I'm the guardian at the gate. I'm not letting any evil into the building."

Per Raiders beat writer Vic Tafur, Pierce values “alpha males with an edge.” He will not shy away from big personalities with swagger because he believes he is like that himself. Pierce values players who have overcome adversity and those who have an “underdog mentality.” Pierce seems passionate about this, and therefore, I’m passionate about mocking the Raiders a player who fits this personality.

Daniels and Penix fit these descriptions to a tee. I’m definitely buying the rumors that the Raiders love Daniels and have considered packaging several picks to move up. I’m also buying the notion that Daniels wants to play for the Raiders. Pierce even recruited Daniels to Arizona State.

Assuming the Raiders cannot pull off this dream trade, the fall back plan could be Penix, who has had four season-ending injuries, but his medical evaluations were supposedly fine. Penix has been very candid about battling through adversity stemming from those injuries. This provides some context for Daniel Jeremiah shockingly mocking Penix to the Raiders at Pick 13.

While this seems aggressive for a 24-year-old QB with an injury history, we shouldn’t be remotely surprised if LVR moves back into the first round to secure Penix.

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32. OT Kingsley Suamataia (BYU)

Kansas City Chiefs

Most likely range for Suamataia: No. 30-Round 2
Most likely destinations for Suamataia: BAL, SF, KC, NE, WAS
Team needs: LT, WR, CB

Who is protecting Patrick Mahomes's blindside? This remains undetermined. LT Donovan Smith is a free agent after starting 15 games for KC last season.

Kingsley Suamataia has been a name linked to KC throughout the draft process, per Scott Smith. However, Tony Pauline reported that the feedback he's getting from Suamataia lately has not been positive. Andy Reid has long prioritized the trenches over skill positions in the draft.

The Chiefs have somehow managed to win two straight Super Bowls with little invested at wide receiver, but the team has to be looking for some kind of complement to WR Rashee Rice. It's logical to assume that speed would be prioritized considering the team's previous usage of Tyreek Hill and the departure of Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Rice may be suspended after an off-field incident, but I’m not sure this moves the needle on drafting a WR seeing as WR was already a need beforehand.

The team has likely focused on a pair of Texas WRs, Adonai Mitchell and Xavier Worthy. Pat Mahomes took note of their record-breaking speed at the NFL Combine.

The champs are minus two starting defensive backs, CB L'Jarius Sneed and S Mike Edwards, so some replenishments in the secondary are needed. Kansas City only recorded eight interceptions last season (T-30th) with them. I could see them scooping up a corner who slides like Nate Wiggins or Kool-Aid McKinstry.

I have the Chiefs’ targets for Pick 32 as follows: Tyler Guyton, Xavier Worthy, Adonai Mitchell, Nate Wiggins, Kool-Aid McKinstry, Kingsley Suamataia

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Other Round 1 Possibilities

CB Nate Wiggins (Clemson)
Most likely range for Wiggins: 20-Round 2
Most likely destinations for Wiggins: PIT, TB, ARI, BAL, SF, KC

WR Adonai Mitchell (Texas)
Most likely range for Adonai Mitchell: 21-Round 2
Most likely destinations for Adonai Mitchell: JAX, MIA, BUF, KC

QB Bo Nix (Oregon)
Most likely range for Nix: 20-Round 2
Most likely destinations for Nix: DEN

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