NFL Mock Draft Odds, Rumors: Latest on Will Anderson, Jalen Carter, Bijan Robinson, More
Photo by Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images. Pictured: Jalen Carter.
I’ve long compared mocking Round 1 of the NFL Draft to building a puzzle.
I delved into the four top quarterbacks (the corner pieces of the puzzle) — C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Anthony Richardson and Will Levis — and their likely first-round landing spots on Wednesday. Now, I address the key players at other positions.
As of this writing, there are 20 players who I believe will be widely regarded as first-round prospects: four quarterbacks, one running back, one wide receiver, four offensive linemen, five defensive ends, one defensive tackle and four cornerbacks. I feel relatively comfortable with mocking those 20 in Round 1 right now.
The remaining 11 picks that will fill out Round 1 are considered “likely,” “maybe,” “unlikely” or “doubtful.”
More on them later.
Will Anderson Jr. (DE, Alabama)
Projected Range: Picks 3-6.
Most Likely Landing Spots: Cardinals (3), Seahawks (5), Lions (6).
The Cardinals have made it apparent they wish to trade down. Presumably, the trade partner would be a team targeting a quarterback. Thus, Anderson is -285 to be drafted over pick 3.5.
Even if Arizona can’t pull off a trade, it’s unclear whether the Cards would select Anderson or Tyree Wilson. NFL Draft Insider Daniel Jeremiah stated on his podcast that several teams have Wilson slightly higher than Anderson. However, Jeremiah also reluctantly mocked Anderson to Arizona.
Because of the trade possibility, because teams picking first, second and fourth may each take a quarterback and because teams could favor Wilson, or even Jalen Carter, I believe it is more likely that Anderson falls to picks 5-6 (SEA/DET) than going third overall (ARI).
Tyree Wilson (DE, Texas Tech.)
Projected Range: Picks 3-9.
Most Likely Landing Spots: Seahawks (5), Falcons (8), Bears (9).
Wilson could go as high as third to Arizona if the Cardinals don’t trade the pick. There’s reason to believe Arizona is one of several teams that rank Wilson slightly ahead of Will Anderson Jr. (per NFL Draft Insider Daniel Jeremiah). However, Arizona would obviously prefer to trade down.
Seattle is an extremely strong bet to take a defensive lineman at No. 5. However, whether that DL is Jalen Carter, Will Anderson, or Wilson remains to be seen, and I do not have a lean on that yet.
Regardless, it’s hard to envision Wilson bypassing the trio of Las Vegas (7), Atlanta (8) and Chicago (9) — three teams with desperate defensive needs. Unsurprisingly, Albert Breer tweeted yesterday that Wilson is a “top 10 lock.”
Jalen Carter (DT, UGA)
Projected Range: Picks 5-10
Most Likely Landing Spots: Seahawks (5), Bears (9), Eagles (10).
One of the most talented prospect in this year’s draft class, Carter’s recent arrest, interviews and a poor pro day have raised several red flags regarding his character and work ethic. Based on what I’ve read, it’s safe to assume the team who drafts Carter has met with him personally. In other words, I highly doubt a team drafts Carter without a lengthy face-to-face interview.
Right now, the teams that have met with Carter privately are the Seahawks (5), Lions (6), Bears (9) and Eagles (10). There is one commonality here: Carter has only met with teams picking in the top 10.
This is by design. His agent’s public refusal to meet with teams outside the top 10 speaks of a “guarantee” of sorts. Daniel Jeremiah revealed that teams are aware of some kind of “assurance” made by teams. Essentially, this is the classic “if Jalen is there, he’s our pick.”
Thus, in terms of accurately mocking Carter, if everything stated is assumed to be true, this really narrows down the possibilities to four teams. Furthermore, I believe the list can be shortened to three teams because the Lions selecting Carter would be extremely out of character for intangibles-driven GM Brad Holmes and passionate head coach Dan Campbell.
Again, I cannot emphasize enough how much of a drastic departure this would be from this regime’s team-building philosophy, culture and history.
Whereas Carter to Detroit (6) cannot be ruled out completely, the better bets would be on Carter’s slide stopping with Seattle (5), Chicago (9) or Philadelphia (10). Accordingly, I’m leaning toward the over (+120) on the O/U prop of 7.5.
Devon Witherspoon (CB, Illinois)
Projected Range: Picks 6-14.
Most Likely Landing Spots: Lions (6), Raiders (7).
The betting market’s odds on the first cornerback drafted has flipped in favor of Witherspoon in the past week. He is currently -210 on FanDuel to be the first CB selected. This is partially a result of Witherspoon being a strong possibility for Detroit at No. 6.
Witherspoon fits there for a variety of reasons:
- Cornerback is a glaring need for Detroit as the room is barren after 2024.
- Witherspoon fits the Lions’ defensive scheme as he specializes in man coverage as opposed to Christian Gonzalez, who primarily plays zone.
- He has earned glowing reports throughout the interview process in regards to leadership, work ethic and passion for football — he fits the culture in Detroit.
- Witherspoon’s smallish stature and feisty playing style may remind Lions DC Aaron Glenn of himself.
For these reasons and more, I’m expecting Witherspoon to be the Lions’ pick, unless a stud like Will Anderson Jr. is on the board. Even then, I think the Raiders could take him with the next pick (7). If Witherspoon somehow escapes picks 6-7, I’d bet he’s extremely high on Bill Belichick’s board (14).
Christian Gonzalez (CB, Oregon)
Projected Range: Picks 7-15
Most Likely Landing Spots: Falcons (8), Packers (15).
My range for Gonzalez is a little later than most mockers as I’m struggling to find a team that loves him.
I believe the aforementioned betting market flip between Gonzalez and Witherspoon occurred for a reason, and it could be because teams feel more comfortable with Witherspoon’s character and personality.
Gonzalez should play for a team that features a lot of zone coverage. Arizona (3) does, but it would realistically have to trade down with a QB-needy team in order to select Gonzalez. Atlanta (8) is another option. I see Green Bay (15) as Gonzalez’s floor.
Paris Johnson Jr. (OT, OSU)
Projected Range: Picks 9-15.
Most Likely Landing Spots: Bears (9), Eagles (10), Titans (11), Jets (13).
Johnson is the current betting favorite to be the first offensive tackle selected. His current O/U prop is 10.5. It’s not a bet I’m making yet. Johnson should be mocked to teams that utilize a zone-blocking scheme.
Broderick Jones (OT, UGA)
Projected Range: Picks 10-17
Most Likely Landing Spots: Patriots (14), Commanders (16), Steelers (17).
The Titans (11) and Jets (13) also have major needs along the O-line.
Jones’ current O/U prop is 13.5. I think this is an accurately set line; I’m 50/50 on it. However, because the over is +150, I think that’s a favorable bet.
Peter Skoronski (OT, Northwestern)
Projected Range: Picks 10-14.
Most Likely Landing Spots: Titans (11), Jets (13), Patriots (14).
Some teams view Skoronski as a guard due his length, but he’s a clean prospect with clear team-captain traits, who, at minimum, possesses the versatility to play right tackle.
In my current mock draft, I have Skoronski landing with the Jets (13).
Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR, OSU)
Projected Range: Picks 12-20.
Most Likely Landing Spots: Patriots (14), Packers (15), Seahawks (20).
JSN’s O/U prop is 12.5 in most spots with juice on the over (-175). I like the over.
He is primarily a slot WR who has had one season of production but is coming off an injury plagued campaign. He also ran a relatively slow 40-yard dash. JSN may well be the next Keenan Allen, but this is not the prototype of a top-12 selection.
Even his most generous college comparison, Justin Jefferson, went 22nd. Jefferson should have gone earlier, obviously, but it speaks to the hesitation among NFL teams spending early capital on even the most decorated slot receivers.
Despite Tennessee’s ties to OSU and need at the position, I do not foresee the Titans taking JSN 11th due to more important needs and a new GM not wanting to play “Golden State Warriors football.” It’s certainly possible the Texans draft JSN No. 12, but assuming the Texans take a QB second, I believe defensive-minded head coach Demeco Ryans will want to use the pick on a defender, and pass rushers will be there.
Accordingly, the Texans seem far more likely to consider JSN if they select a pass rusher second. In any case, drafting JSN within the top 12 would still be a departure from the NFL norm. I think he’s more likely to be drafted between picks 14-20.
Lukas Van Ness (DE, Iowa)
Projected Range: Picks 9-15
Most Likely Landing Spots: Bears (9), Eagles (10), Texans (12), Packers (15).
Van Ness is a raw prospect who has the traits to possibly be a great long term player. Consequently, whoever drafts him should be able to afford him time to develop, whether that be a team not expected to win immediately (like the Texans), or a team that can coach him up behind starters before playing significant snaps next season (like the Eagles).
Nolan Smith (DE, UGA)
Projected Range: Picks 10-20.
Most Likely Landing Spots: Eagles (10), Jets (13), Buccaneers (19).
Smith is a freak athlete, but because of his smaller size, he may have a wider range of outcomes than Van Ness. In other words, Smith may be slightly more likely to slide.
Daniel Jeremiah, who is plugged in with the Jets, has Smith at No.13, which is in contrast with the vast majority of mock drafts who give a right tackle to New York.
Myles Murphy (DE, Clemson)
Projected Range: Picks 15-24.
Most Likely Landing Spots: Packers (15), Lions (18), Seahawks (20), Jaguars (24).
Draft insider Tony Pauline has connected Murphy to Atlanta (8); I’ve also seen the Clemson product slide to the late 20s in a number of prominent mocks. His range is all over the place.
Joey Porter Jr. (CB, Penn. St.)
Projected Range: Picks 14-22
Most Likely Landing Spots: Patriots (14), Packers (15), Commanders (16), Steelers (17).
Porter’s O/U prop is 16.5 with juice on the over. He’s older — 23 by the start of the season — and is somewhat restrained by scheme (fits best with bump-and-run coverage style), so it’s possible Porter slides a little.
Nevertheless, given family ties to the Steelers organization, I have a hard time believing Pittsburgh passes on him knowing full well he may end up in Baltimore’s lap at 22. The Steelers have a significant need at CB, too. Newly acquired CB Patrick Peterson would be the ideal mentor for Porter to mirror his game after.
Darnell Wright (OL, Tennessee)
Projected Range: Picks 15-19.
Most Likely Landing Spots: Bears (9), Packers (15), Commanders (16), Buccaneers (19).
Rumors (including Mel Kiper) have connected Wright to the Bears, which seems rich. In theory, GM Ryan Poles should prefer the length of Paris Johnson Jr., and I have a tough time believing the Bears would pass on Jalen Carter if he slid to No. 9.
However, if both Johnson and Carter are not available, then Chicago could take Wright, ideally in a trade-down scenario. I do not see Wright getting beyond Tampa Bay.
Deonte Banks (CB, Maryland)
Projected Range: Picks 17-22.
Most Likely Landing Spots: Steelers (17), Lions (18), and Ravens (22).
In my current mock draft, I have Banks headed to Detroit (18), but that would obviously depend on whether the Lions take Devon Witherspoon sixth.
Bijan Robinson (RB, Texas)
Projected Range: Picks 8-21.
Most Likely Landing Spots: Falcons (8), Commanders (16), Chargers (21), Cowboys (26), Bills (27).
No one questions the talent of Robinson, but due to positional scarcity, only a handful of teams are in the best position to select him.
The door opens with Atlanta at No. 8. This seems rich in today’s NFL, but the Falcons front office put positional value aside when they took tight end Kyle Pitts with the fourth overall pick a couple years ago. Moreover, head coach Arthur Smith comes from Tennessee, where he designed the offense around Derrick Henry. Tyler Allgeier played well down the stretch last season, but it’s doubtful Atlanta sees him as a legitimate reason to pass on a potential generational talent.
That being said, it would make sense for the Falcons to trade down into the teens, as they should still be able to secure Robinson there.
Likewise, the Commanders could be in a good spot to scoop up Robinson. With Washington, we have an established history of GM Martin Mayhew drafting RBs relatively high. Head coach Ron Rivera is old school with running backs and has soured on Antonio Gibson, whose contract expires next offseason. New offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy will want to put his stamp on an offense that currently sports Sam Howell as its starting quarterback.
I mentioned above that the Cowboys (26) and Bills (27) are teams that would likely select Robinson if he’s available. However, I believe the Chargers (21) could close that door given the Austin Ekeler contract situation.
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