Every year when coaching fates are discussed, I like to ask fans whether a realistic replacement would be a better option than the incumbent. If a team commits to taking a step backwards, then there has to be accountability. The same dilemma is playing out with quarterbacks this year. Does potential prospect X represent an improvement over present quarterback Y? In today's exercise, I answer some of those ponderings.
The draft order below was determined using SportsLine's Super Bowl odds but in reverse order.
Without further ado, let's kick this off!
Round 1 - Pick 1
Oregon • Soph • 6'5" / 258 lbs
Kayvon Thibodeaux and Carl Lawson are a good pairing for New York moving forward. The Jets have a quarterback to back so they can direct their assets elsewhere. The transformation continues with Thibodeaux.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Evan Neal OL
Alabama • Jr • 6'7" / 350 lbs
Jacksonville could move on from Cam Robinson as early as next week, so it makes sense for the team to be actively searching for a long-term left tackle. Evan Neal and Trevor Lawrence can be successful together for many years.
Round 1 - Pick 3
LSU • Jr • 6'1" / 195 lbs
Derek Stingley Jr. is becoming a popular projection for Houston. I think the Texans' strategy has been to compile veterans and potentially move them at the deadline for draft capital. We are about to see whether or not it plays out that way.
Round 1 - Pick 5
From Miami Dolphins
Round 1 - Pick 6
Ikem Ekwonu OT
NC State • Soph • 6'4" / 320 lbs
Ikem Ekwonu can step in immediately at guard, but he also provides Philadelphia with some insurance in the event that its tackles struggle staying healthy again. Ekwonu is a road grader in the true sense of the word, but he has shown growth in pass protection.
Round 1 - Pick 7
Ohio State • Jr • 6'0" / 192 lbs
Garrett Wilson is the best wide receiver prospect in the draft. Ideally, a worthy franchise quarterback prospect would be waiting for Washington, but I do not believe that to be the case yet. Terry McLaurin and Wilson give Washington a talented duo.
Round 1 - Pick 8
Texas A&M • Jr • 6'4" / 290 lbs
I am stuck on Philadelphia and Demarvin Leal because I think that would be a really good situation for him. Leal has the ability to rush from the edge or condense inside depending upon the situation.
From Chicago Bears
Round 1 - Pick 9
Purdue • Jr • 6'4" / 275 lbs
There is a healthy debate between George Karlaftis and Aidan Hutchinson, but I lean towards the former. People might be a bit scared of his reliance on power because a similar situation played out with A.J. Epenesa a few years ago. New York needs edge rush help and Karlaftis is the best available.
Round 1 - Pick 10
Matt Corral QB
Ole Miss • Jr • 6'2" / 205 lbs
I think Matt Corral is the most ready to contribute to an NFL team right now. Corral and Nevada's Carson Strong have shown maturity and improved decision-making, which has them sticking out to me. I think Corral is more in line with what a lot of teams are looking for right now.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Mississippi State • Soph • 6'5" / 310 lbs
It has to be awkward in Carolina after reports of its interest in Deshaun Watson spread. Now, it seems as though the team is stuck with Sam Darnold for the time being. Charles Cross gives the Panthers a long-term option at left tackle for whichever quarterback is under center next season.
Round 1 - Pick 12
Michigan • Sr • 6'6" / 265 lbs
Atlanta is one of those teams that has to weigh its current options at quarterback versus the alternative. I am not sure if any of the available options represent an upgrade over Matt Ryan, so the Falcons add a piece to the defense.
From Seattle Seahawks
Round 1 - Pick 13
Cincinnati • Jr • 6'2" / 188 lbs
After adding Kayvon Thibodeaux No. 1 overall, New York adds another cornerstone piece to its defense in the form of "Sauce" Gardner. If Zach Wilson can take a leap next year, I think the Jets take off with him.
Round 1 - Pick 14
Chris Olave WR
Ohio State • Sr • 6'1" / 188 lbs
Bill Belichick has used some top assets to address the wide receiver position in recent years, from giving up a second-round pick to acquire Mohamed Sanu to using a first-round pick on N'Keal Harry to the money invested in last year's free agents. Chris Olave would be a big step towards solving that riddle.
Round 1 - Pick 15
Sam Howell QB
North Carolina • Jr • 6'1" / 225 lbs
Let's be honest, Pittsburgh has to make a change at quarterback and we are not projecting veteran trades, so that means it addresses it in the draft. Sam Howell is never going to be one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, but I think he can consistently be the player the Steelers need to play complementary football.
From Indianapolis Colts
Round 1 - Pick 16
Devin Lloyd LB
Utah • Jr • 6'3" / 235 lbs
The makeover continues in Philadelphia. They added Ikem Ekwonu, Demarvin Leal and now Devin Lloyd. I know the Eagles do not take linebackers early, but when you have three first-round picks, there are allowed to be some outliers.
From San Francisco 49ers
Round 1 - Pick 17
Round 1 - Pick 18
Kenyon Green OL
Texas A&M • Jr • 6'4" / 325 lbs
Minnesota allocates some of its prime assets to the offensive line for the second consecutive season. Christian Darrisaw and Kenyon Green give the Vikings a few concrete slabs on which they can build.
Round 1 - Pick 19
Jordan Davis DL
Georgia • Soph • 6'6" / 330 lbs
To be quite honest, it is impressive what Las Vegas has been able to accomplish amidst the drama brought on by Jon Gruden. Derek Carr is playing really well and the team has a record that suggests it is one of the premier franchises in the AFC. Jordan Davis is some reinforcement on that defense next season.
Round 1 - Pick 20
Drake London WR
USC • Jr • 6'5" / 210 lbs
Can it be said that Michael Thomas will be a part of this team next year or even two years? Where are they at wide receiver without Thomas? New Orleans has to start planning for the future, and that includes Drake London in this exercise.
Round 1 - Pick 21
Clemson • Jr • 6'0" / 200 lbs
Cincinnati's front seven has been relentless, and now it adds some dynamic ability in the secondary to pair with Jessie Bates. The sky is the limit if the Bengals defense is able to sustainability play at a comparable level to the offense.
Round 1 - Pick 22
Arkansas • Jr • 6'3" / 225 lbs
Everyone is witnessing the closing of Odell Beckham Jr.'s career in Cleveland. The Browns could move on from Jarvis Landry as well, so it would behoove them to invest in the position. Treylon Burks represents great value at this stage of the first round.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Round 1 - Pick 26
Cincinnati • Sr • 6'5" / 255 lbs
Dallas learned that there can never be enough pass rush options on the roster. Myjai Sanders is an admission that the Cowboys do not want to be in a position requiring them to move a first-round pick to a new position; even if it did actually work.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Jahan Dotson WR
Penn State • Sr • 5'11" / 184 lbs
The odds of Green Bay drafting a wide receiving in the first round are slim, but it makes sense for them with or without Aaron Rodgers. Jahan Dotson is a smaller wide receiver capable of contributing at all three levels of the field.
Round 1 - Pick 28
Central Michigan • Jr • 6'7" / 305 lbs
I have tossed around the idea of including Bernhard Raimann in the first round for weeks and finally decided to take the plunge. He is an athletic player who still has some consistency issues to work through, but he is not raw.
From Los Angeles Rams
Round 1 - Pick 30
Malik Willis QB
Liberty • Jr • 6'1" / 195 lbs
Detroit should not take just any quarterback in the first round because I do not believe many are a recognizable upgrade over Jared Goff. Malik Willis certainly is not a better quarterback right now, but he is a different type of quarterback. The Lions could be inclined to take a lottery ticket on the game's most important location.
Round 1 - Pick 31
Daxton Hill DB
Michigan • Jr • 6'0" / 192 lbs
Buffalo adds a versatile defender to its secondary. If this offseason is the time to move on from a safety, then Daxton Hill can play there. If they want a big cornerback opposite Tre'Davious White, Hill can play there. If they want some size in the slot, Hill can be that for them.