What do you do with Jordan Davis? Davis had been one of my favorite players to watch at the college level this past season because he was the freakiest of all on a Georgia defense full of future NFL players. Human beings of Davis' size and stature are not supposed to move the way he does, and nothing he did at the combine surprised me.
But what's his draft value? As incredible as he is, Davis plays a position that has evolved in recent seasons, and his strengths don't quite play to what the NFL is these days. Whereas an athletic freak who can take away an opponent's interior run game on his own will always have value, if you draft Davis in the first round, you're anticipating he'll be able to develop into a better pass rusher. The ideal NFL defensive tackle is one in the Aaron Donald mold. Somebody who doesn't just destroy a run game but can collapse the pocket from the interior on his own and get to the quarterback. Davis' sacks are often the result of pressure from one of Georgia's edge rushers forcing a QB up in the pocket into his waiting arms.
So the question becomes, would you rather use a first-round pick on Davis or a second-round pick on somebody like his Georgia teammate Devonte Wyatt? Wyatt's stock rose at the combine, but he's not seen as a surefire first-rounder. He's stout against the run, and has shown a greater propensity for getting after the QB. That said, if you're a team like the Los Angeles Chargers, and you believe using your first on Davis solves one of your greatest weaknesses (your run defense), then taking Davis makes more sense.
It will be interesting to see how teams approach this question and Jordan Davis. Spoiler alert: I have the Chargers pulling the trigger on him at No. 17 in this mock. As for everybody else, well, just keep reading.
Round 1 - Pick 1
Ikem Ekwonu OL
NC State • Soph • 6'4" / 320 lbs
I've had Evan Neal here in my first two mock drafts, but I'm going with my heart this time. I've had Ekwonu as my No. 1 OT in this class all along, and he showed people why at the combine. Jacksonville is either trading down or taking an OT here, so I'm simply choosing my favorite OT for them to take. It could still be Neal or another tackle.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Aidan Hutchinson EDGE
Michigan • Soph • 6'6" / 265 lbs
Nothing changes here for me. While Kayvon Thibodeaux is my top edge rusher in the draft, I'm high on Hutchinson as well, and he seems like an obvious fit for Detroit. He's a need, he played at Michigan, and he has the kind of motor that Dan Campbell will appreciate.
Round 1 - Pick 3
Evan Neal OL
Alabama • Soph • 6'7" / 350 lbs
The Texans will be the domino that really starts this draft. There isn't an area of the team it can't afford to improve, making it difficult to know what the Texans are going to do. I've had Kayvon Thibodeaux here in previous mocks, but with Neal still on the board, I wouldn't be surprised if this is where Houston goes. Neal is a fantastic prospect who could solve one of Houston's many problems for the next decade.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Kayvon Thibodeaux EDGE
Oregon • Soph • 6'5" / 258 lbs
Given what I've seen of Robert Saleh's defenses in San Francisco, Thibodeaux strikes me as the kind of player he'd love to have. I don't get the questions about Thibodeaux's motor. Maybe you can question his endurance at times, but I don't remember seeing him not giving everything he had. He's immensely talented, versatile, and an intelligent defender. He could become a perennial All-Pro at a value position.
Round 1 - Pick 5
Mississippi State • Soph • 6'5" / 311 lbs
I've liked Cross for a while, and I've heard from a few people since the combine that his stock has risen in their minds as well. While he hasn't shown the ability to be an outstanding run-blocker in his career, it's more a reflection of the offense he was in than in his ability. He's strong and athletic enough to believe that he shouldn't have much trouble figuring it out.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Notre Dame • Soph • 6'4" / 220 lbs
I had Kenny Pickett here in my first two mocks, and while that's still very much in play, Hamilton makes plenty of sense for Carolina too. He just hasn't been here in my previous mocks. Now, if the draft arrives and Carolina hasn't added a viable QB to its roster yet, then Pickett or any other QB is very much in play at this spot.
Mock Trade from New York Giants
Round 1 - Pick 7
Malik Willis QB
Liberty • Soph • 6'1" / 219 lbs
Russell Wilson is gone, and I don't think anybody expects Drew Lock to be the long-term answer. So Seattle makes another move, getting ahead of an Atlanta team that could be in the market for a QB to get the guy they want to replace Wilson. Willis is a lot like an unpolished version of the young Wilson that had so much success in Seattle. Given time to develop and round out his game, he could be Seattle's next franchise QB.
Round 1 - Pick 8
Chris Olave WR
Ohio State • Soph • 6'0" / 187 lbs
I wonder if Calvin Ridley will bet on the Falcons to take a WR with this pick now that he's been suspended. I think it's worth a shot because while Atlanta has other needs, a player like Olave could slot right into Ridley's role. Olave is a smooth athlete who looks effortless in everything he does and has a great sense of how to find open space and excellent footwork to help create separation.
Mock Trade from Seattle Seahawks
Round 1 - Pick 9
Georgia • Soph • 6'5" / 272 lbs
Walker is another outstanding player from the Georgia defense who turned heads in Indianapolis and has improved his stock considerably. I swear it was only 10 days ago when most thought he'd be an early second-rounder, and now we could see him going in the top 10. The Giants adding Cross and Walker while trading down to get extra picks would be an incredible start to the Joe Schoen era.
From Seattle Seahawks
Round 1 - Pick 10
Cincinnati • Soph • 6'3" / 200 lbs
With their two first-round picks in this mock, the Jets are walking away with the player I believe to be the best edge rusher in the class and the guy I believe to be the best corner in the class. I don't do draft grades, but I'd be giving the Jets an "A+" if I did.
Round 1 - Pick 11
LSU • Soph • 6'0" / 190 lbs
While opinions on Stingley vary wildly, the overall consensus is that he's a remarkable talent. However, there are questions about his "desire." Some teams feel he isn't physical enough, while others question his decision to shut it down in 2021 following an injury. Some of the concerns are warranted, but there were similar concerns about other LSU players like Leonard Fournette and Ja'Marr Chase, and those picks worked out all right. It's not Washington's biggest need, but it could prove a brilliant choice.
Round 1 - Pick 12
George Karlaftis EDGE
Purdue • Soph • 6'4" / 263 lbs
What you have to love about Karlaftis is the motor never stops. He's going all-out on every snap, and he's strong enough and quick enough to make a lot of blockers look foolish. That said, he's not as fluid as you'd like when changing direction, and he does struggle when he isn't able to overpower his blocker with his strength or speed off the snap. There's plenty of potential for an above-average pass rusher here, and those are always valuable.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Jermaine Johnson II EDGE
Florida State • Soph • 6'5" / 262 lbs
Johnson's career began at Georgia, but he transferred to Florida State. If you watched the combine and saw how Georgia's defenders performed, it's easy to understand why. That's not a knock on Johnson, though, as he's just as talented as they are. Transferring was simply a way to ensure more playing time, and it paid off. He was a dominant force in the ACC and has the potential to be the best defensive player in this draft class.
Round 1 - Pick 14
Washington • Soph • 5'11" / 193 lbs
Do not allow yourself to be fooled by McDuffie's size. He is not afraid of anybody and is always willing to stick his face in the fan, but while he plays with the mentality of a grinder who needs to overcome athletic deficiencies, he's a tremendous athlete too. His 4.44 40 at the combine turned heads, but his ability to change direction is as impressive as his straight-line speed.
From Miami Dolphins
Round 1 - Pick 15
Nakobe Dean LB
Georgia • Soph • 5'11" / 231 lbs
As I've written before, the Eagles don't usually draft off-ball linebackers this early in the draft, but if Dean is still on the board for this pick, they should reconsider the policy. Drafting Dean means you won't have to worry about the position for at least the next five seasons, as you'll have a heat-seeking missile flying from sideline to sideline on your defense, destroying everything in its path.
From Indianapolis Colts
Round 1 - Pick 16
Arkansas • Soph • 6'2" / 225 lbs
Some might be put off by Burks running a 4.55 40 at the combine, but I couldn't care less. Watch the tape and try to find any defender in the country who gained ground on him once he hit the open field. He's a player that might run a 4.55 in shorts, but when you put the ball in his hands, it's a 4.4. Pairing Burks with DeVonta Smith would give the Eagles two fantastic playmakers to help out Jalen Hurts.
Round 1 - Pick 17
Jordan Davis DL
Georgia • Soph • 6'6" / 336 lbs
As I said up top, in a vacuum, I'm not taking a run-stuffing defensive tackle in the first round of this draft, but it makes sense for the Chargers to do so. They just traded for Khalil Mack to pair with Joey Bosa, and that duo should provide all the pass-rush juice the team needs.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Ohio State • Soph • 6'0" / 192 lbs
I don't know who the Saints will have at QB next season, and they may address the position here. If they go a different route, whoever they end up with will be happy to have Wilson to throw to. Wilson accelerates at a ridiculous rate, and he is excellent at making contested catches in traffic. He has some work to do on his footwork and route-running, but he has No. 1 WR potential.
Round 1 - Pick 19
Kaiir Elam CB
Florida • Soph • 6'1" / 191 lbs
There's a good chance I'm higher on Elam than everybody else, but I'll pound the table for him. He has a knack for the football and the kind of playmaking ability that can change a game. There aren't a lot of those guys available on the defensive side of the ball.
Round 1 - Pick 20
Cincinnati • Soph • 6'3" / 207 lbs
I'm convinced the Steelers will take a QB at this spot if they don't trade up to grab one even earlier, and Ridder improved his stock in Indianapolis. He doesn't have the greatest arm strength for pushing the ball down the field, and that could trigger bad memories for Steelers fans who had to spend last season watching Big Ben dink and dunk, but there's plenty to like. I love his consistency in keeping his eyes down the field and looking for the pass instead of taking off at the first sign of trouble.
Round 1 - Pick 21
Devin Lloyd LB
Utah • Soph • 6'3" / 235 lbs
Lloyd has struck me as the kind of linebacker Bill Belichick loves for the last few seasons. He's physical, productive and versatile. He's an excellent tackler but can be a little too aggressive at times and overpursue ball-carriers and lose his gap, but there are far more positives than negatives here. With the right coach and in the right scheme, he could be a star.
Round 1 - Pick 22
Alabama • Soph • 6'2" / 189 lbs
The Raiders will be looking for a Henry Ruggs replacement to stretch the field vertically, and Williams would solve that problem quickly. If he hadn't torn his ACL in the national title game, there's a good chance he'd be the first receiver off the board. He might still be, so the Raiders should run to the podium if he falls this far.
Round 1 - Pick 23
Clemson • Soph • 6'0" / 194 lbs
Opinions vary about Booth. From a measurable standpoint, he's a no-doubter. He's got great size, speed and athleticism. He's competitive as hell and can play with a fiery demeanor you love to see in a defensive back. The problem is that sometimes that competitive nature causes him to be a little too quick and get himself into a bad position because of it. While I don't know that I'd use a top 15 pick on him, I'd be more than happy to snap him up here.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Iowa • Soph • 6'2" / 305 lbs
It's a pick that makes a lot of sense for a Dallas team that could use an upgrade to the interior of its offensive line. From a perspective of a player's ability to play their position, there might not be a better player in this draft than Linderbaum. Unfortunately for him, you rarely see centers going early in drafts.
Round 1 - Pick 25
David Ojabo EDGE
Michigan • Soph • 6'4" / 255 lbs
Ojabo is still learning the position, but he's proving to be an excellent student. He was fantastic for Michigan this season and could continue to improve should he add a few more moves to his repertoire. When he gets home, he also displays a knack for separating the ball from the QB.
Round 1 - Pick 26
Kenyon Green OL
Texas A&M • Soph • 6'4" / 323 lbs
I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw from Green during the on-field drills at the combine. He showed the ability to change direction without losing his balance that you don't get a chance to see often on his tape as he's an interior lineman. So while he's shown to be a much better run-blocker on the interior than pass-protector, there's reason to believe he can become an all-around stud on the inside.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Nevada • 6'4" / 215 lbs
If you look at Bruce Arians' history as a coach before Tom Brady entered his life, he certainly had a type of QB. Whether we're talking Ben Roethlisberger or Carson Palmer, Arians has had success with QBs who might not be mobile but aren't afraid to stand in the pocket and use a powerful arm to push the ball vertically down the field. That's precisely who Strong is. Whether or not Tampa wants to use this pick on a QB is certainly up for debate, but it's a fit.
Round 1 - Pick 28
Arnold Ebiketie EDGE
Penn State • Soph • 6'3" / 256 lbs
With Aaron Rodgers getting a fat new bag and Davante Adams getting the franchise tag, the Packers don't have a lot of money to spend on the defensive side of the ball. While they might still go for a receiver here, a young pass rusher with the potential Ebiketie has could prove to be the wiser decision.
From San Francisco 49ers
Round 1 - Pick 29
Central Michigan • Soph • 6'6" / 303 lbs
Raimann is my favorite "under-the-radar" tackle prospect in this draft. I'll let everybody else fawn over Trevor Penning. He's a tremendous athlete still learning the position as he moved to tackle from tight end at Central Michigan, and he has All-Pro potential. Still, it might take a year or three for him to get there, so he isn't likely to go any earlier than this.
Round 1 - Pick 30
This makes me three for three in mocking Hill to the Chiefs. It makes too much sense to me, as Hill is a perfect long-term replacement for Tyrann Mathieu. That said, these are still the Chiefs we're talking about. They could opt to draft another receiver for Patrick Mahomes to launch bombs to as well.
Round 1 - Pick 31
Northern Iowa • Soph • 6'7" / 325 lbs
The combine was my first chance to see Penning in action, and while I love his demeanor, I have doubts about whether he can play left tackle in the NFL. I don't think he's athletic enough to stick there and routinely win against NFL edge rushers. That said, while right tackle is where I think he ends up, the Bengals need help all over their line, and Penning provides that.
From Los Angeles Rams
Round 1 - Pick 32
Pittsburgh • Soph • 6'3" / 220 lbs
If you have concerns about Pickett's hand size and ability to play in bad weather because of it, those concerns are mitigated a bit when at least half his games will be played indoors as they would be with Detroit. Pickett's polished enough to compete with Jared Goff right away, or the Lions can opt to let him start the year in a reserve role.