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The first mock draft is always the toughest, and this year seems to have a different layer of difficulty. First of all, any mock draft completed before free agency begins is working with a severe lack of information because we don't know how teams plan to address their needs until we see where they're spending money on the market, but that's the case every year.

The bigger problem this season is the quarterback class. I'm not the first to tell you that this year's QB class isn't as highly-rated as the one last year or many of the recent classes we've seen, and there's a real chance we won't see a QB go in the first five picks for the first time since 2013 when E.J. Manuel went to Buffalo at No. 16. But while the QB class might not be as exciting, there are a few things that never change.

  1. The QB is the most important position in the sport
  2. A lot of teams -- particularly the ones picking early -- need a QB
  3. Teams always overpay for QBs because they need them, and they're important

So while Manuel didn't go until the 16th pick, I'm confident we'll see multiple QBs off the board before then this year, even in a "down" year. It's the when and where that's hard to predict, but I'll try my best anyway.

NFL Mock Draft
Round 1
Round 1 - Pick 1
Alabama • 6'7" / 350 lbs
Projected Team
Jacksonville
PROSPECT RNK
6th
POSITION RNK
2nd
I don't think any of the offensive tackles are the best player available in this draft, but it makes more sense for Jacksonville to go after somebody to protect Trevor Lawrence. Personally, I like N.C. State's Ikem Ekwonu the best among the tackles, but I understand why any team would fall in love with Neal. He's already far along in his development and should continue to improve.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Michigan • 6'7" / 260 lbs
Projected Team
Detroit
PROSPECT RNK
3rd
POSITION RNK
2nd
There's plenty of debate between Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux as the top edge-rusher in this class. I lean toward Thibodeaux, but Hutchinson offers plenty to like. He's productive and improved throughout his career. Also, the fact he played nearby at Michigan could make him slightly more appealing to the Lions.
Round 1 - Pick 3
Oregon • 6'4" / 254 lbs
Projected Team
Houston
PROSPECT RNK
1st
POSITION RNK
1st
Thibodeaux is my top player in this draft. It's not just his athleticism and production, but his versatility. He can get after the QB, but he can also kick inside to the interior, disrupt from there, and drop back into coverage. If he hadn't been dealing with injuries this season, I don't think there'd be any question about who the top player in this class is.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Notre Dame • 6'4" / 220 lbs
Projected Team
N.Y. Jets
PROSPECT RNK
2nd
POSITION RNK
1st
It's a pick that makes too much sense for it not to happen. I know teams are hesitant to take safeties early in the draft -- and the Jets might have PTSD from Jamal Adams -- but the Jets need a safety, and Hamilton fits so much of what they need. Also, to be clear, Hamilton isn't Jamal Adams. Adams was a thumper. Hamilton is a Swiss Army knife who can ballhawk while back in coverage just as effectively as he can play closer to the line of scrimmage.
Round 1 - Pick 5
NC State • 6'4" / 320 lbs
Projected Team
N.Y. Giants
PROSPECT RNK
10th
POSITION RNK
4th
I love Ikem Ekwonu more than any other tackle in this class because he's not just talented with room to grow, but he plays with a mean demeanor. There's an edge to his game that is essential when you're asking a player to go against an elite edge rusher every week. Daniel Jones might not be the long-term answer in New York, but whomever it is, they'll be better off having Ekwonu protecting them for the next decade.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Pittsburgh • 6'3" / 220 lbs
Projected Team
Carolina
PROSPECT RNK
21st
POSITION RNK
2nd
Matt Rhule is on the hot seat and needs to upgrade his QB situation. I have Pickett as my No. 1 QB in this class, and he's the most pro-ready, which makes him a logical fit with the Panthers, who need somebody to step in right away. Pickett isn't spectacular at anything, but he's got a good arm, plenty of athleticism, good pocket awareness, and he's accurate. Honestly, he's like a generic brand Joe Burrow.
Round 1 - Pick 7
Ohio State • 6'0" / 192 lbs
Projected Team
N.Y. Giants
PROSPECT RNK
7th
POSITION RNK
1st
The depth in the Ohio State receiving corps the last few years is incredible because Wilson could be the first WR taken in this draft, and I'm not sure he was the best receiver on his team last season. He would be the best receiver on the Giants, though. Adding Ekwonu and Wilson to the offense would be an excellent start for Brian Daboll's tenure in New York and help Daniel Jones tremendously.
  Mock Trade from Atlanta Falcons
Round 1 - Pick 8
Liberty • 6'1" / 219 lbs
Projected Team
Minnesota
PROSPECT RNK
23rd
POSITION RNK
3rd
The Vikings trade up with the Falcons to snag a QB. Malik Willis is the lottery ticket of this class. There's franchise QB upside to him, but there's also a high bust factor. Ideally, Willis could use some time to learn before being thrown into the fire, which is what makes Minnesota a good landing spot. Willis sits while Cousins finishes out his deal.
  Mock Trade from Denver Broncos
Round 1 - Pick 9
USC • 6'4" / 213 lbs
Projected Team
Green Bay
PROSPECT RNK
31st
POSITION RNK
5th
In this dimension, the Packers have traded Aaron Rodgers to Denver and received the Broncos' first-round pick as part of the compensation. If the Packers trade Rodgers, you'd imagine Davante Adams won't stick around, so Green Bay looks to speed along Jordan Love's development with a new top target in USC's Drake London.
Round 1 - Pick 10
Cincinnati • 6'3" / 200 lbs
Projected Team
N.Y. Jets
PROSPECT RNK
22nd
POSITION RNK
5th
Within a span of 10 picks, the Jets have seriously upgraded their secondary by adding Kyle Hamilton and Ahmad Gardner. Gardner isn't their biggest need in this spot, but this is tremendous value for a player who fits the profile of what Robert Saleh likes in his corners. He's excellent in coverage and is not afraid to stick his face in the fan, either.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Cincinnati • 6'3" / 207 lbs
Projected Team
Washington
PROSPECT RNK
51st
POSITION RNK
5th
I'd bet there were some swear words said in the Commanders War Room when the Vikings moved up to get Malik Willis, but it doesn't change the fact Washington needs a QB. If not addressed through trade or free agency, Ridder makes sense. He has the arm strength and mobility you want but needs to work on his decision-making and make quicker progressions.
  Mock Trade from Minnesota Vikings
Round 1 - Pick 12
LSU • 6'1" / 195 lbs
Projected Team
Atlanta
PROSPECT RNK
5th
POSITION RNK
1st
Stingley can be a confusing player. He's got everything you want from a prospect as far as his size, skill and athleticism, but he can be inconsistent. Considering the mess that the 2021 season was at LSU, I'm not sure it's his fault. He could prove to be the best corner in this draft, and this is excellent value for the Falcons after trading down.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Purdue • 6'4" / 275 lbs
Projected Team
Cleveland
PROSPECT RNK
9th
POSITION RNK
3rd
The Browns had hoped Jadeveon Clowney would prove to be the edge-rushing partner Myles Garrett needed, and they could afford to upgrade. Karlaftis is quick and powerful, which helps him overcome shorter arms than you'd like. Also, like Clowney, he's stout against the run.
Round 1 - Pick 14
Mississippi State • 6'5" / 311 lbs
Projected Team
Baltimore
PROSPECT RNK
8th
POSITION RNK
3rd
This is a deep class at tackle, leading to a few too many people sleeping on Charles Cross. He's got the size, athleticism and demeanor that makes me believe he can be an above-average starting LT at the NFL level for a while. To get a player like that at 14 would be a steal for the Ravens or anybody.
Round 1 - Pick 15
Georgia • 5'11" / 231 lbs
Projected Team
Philadelphia
PROSPECT RNK
12th
POSITION RNK
1st
It'd be against type for the Eagles to draft a linebacker in the first round, but they have three picks, so maybe they'll break from the script. Plus, you know, they could use an upgrade at linebacker! Nakobe Dean is almost a carbon copy of former Georgia linebacker and current Chicago Bear Roquan Smith. He's a terrific combination of athleticism and intelligence. When you combine his instincts and speed, he gets to where the ball is going before the ball knows where it's going.
Round 1 - Pick 16
Alabama • 6'1" / 179 lbs
Projected Team
Philadelphia
PROSPECT RNK
11th
POSITION RNK
2nd
Jameson Williams is a home run hitter the Eagles can use on offense. Pairing him with DeVonta Smith gives Jalen Hurts a couple of very dangerous weapons to take advantage of, as both know how to take advantage of space, and Williams has the speed to run away from most defenders.
Round 1 - Pick 17
Ohio State • 6'1" / 188 lbs
Projected Team
L.A. Chargers
PROSPECT RNK
19th
POSITION RNK
4th
I've seen a lot of Olave at Ohio State, and I'm constantly impressed by how smooth and effortless he makes everything look. He's not big but gets off press coverage, has top-end speed, and runs some beautiful routes. With Keenan Allen getting older and Mike Williams a free agent, the Chargers would be wise to invest in Olave.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Ole Miss • 6'2" / 205 lbs
Projected Team
New Orleans
PROSPECT RNK
18th
POSITION RNK
1st
Call me crazy, but I don't think Taysom Hill is the long-term answer at QB for New Orleans. Matt Corral might be. He's undersized, but that's nothing new for the Saints, as they just spent a decade watching an undersized Drew Brees tear the league apart. The biggest concern with Corral isn't his size as much as the fact he's under the impression he's 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds. I love the tenacity and his fearlessness, but I worry about how he'll hold up at the NFL level. Still, he's an exciting prospect if you can teach him how to slide.
Round 1 - Pick 19
Florida State • 6'5" / 262 lbs
Projected Team
Philadelphia
PROSPECT RNK
40th
POSITION RNK
6th
Johnson found himself buried on the depth chart at Georgia and transferred to Florida State. If you've seen the Georgia defense, that's not a red flag. Once he arrived in Tallahassee, Johnson showed why he was such a highly rated recruit out of high school. His bull rush is powerful, but he needs work on some additional pass-rush moves. Given the energy he shows on the field, you can safely assume he won't be afraid to put the work in to add them.
Round 1 - Pick 20
Iowa • 6'2" / 305 lbs
Projected Team
Pittsburgh
PROSPECT RNK
4th
POSITION RNK
1st
The Steelers top need is QB, and I wouldn't be shocked to see them take one here, but with the QBs that have gone off the board, they opt to address the interior of their offensive line instead. Linderbaum is a top-10 talent, but centers don't usually go that high in the first round, and that's good news for the Steelers.
Round 1 - Pick 21
Utah • 6'3" / 235 lbs
Projected Team
New England
PROSPECT RNK
16th
POSITION RNK
2nd
Utah is always one of my favorite college defenses to watch, and Devin Lloyd has been a big reason why the last few years. He spent time on the edge and inside while with the Utes and has the size and speed to be used in a lot of different ways. I don't want to hit him with a Micah Parsons comp because people will take it the wrong way, but there are many similarities.
Round 1 - Pick 22
Penn State • 5'11" / 182 lbs
Projected Team
Las Vegas
PROSPECT RNK
34th
POSITION RNK
6th
The Raiders need a deep threat now that Henry Ruggs is gone, and Dotson can fill that role while also being able to run all the other routes, too! He's not the biggest receiver, but Dotson was productive at Penn State despite spending his career there with an average QB and while being the team's clear No. 1 option the entire time.
Round 1 - Pick 23
Florida • 6'1" / 191 lbs
Projected Team
Arizona
PROSPECT RNK
36th
POSITION RNK
8th
The Cardinals can use an infusion of talent in the secondary, and Elam makes sense. He's capable of playing both man and zone equally well and has a good nose for the ball. He also has the speed to help overcome mistakes, and while he's not a great tackler, it's not because he's afraid to try.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Texas A&M • 6'4" / 323 lbs
Projected Team
Dallas
PROSPECT RNK
17th
POSITION RNK
5th
Green played at four different spots on the Texas A&M offensive line during his career, so you know he's versatile. He could stick at right tackle in the NFL, but I think he's better suited on the interior. Dallas could probably use him at both spots, so it might as well draft him and figure it out from there.
Round 1 - Pick 25
Clemson • 6'0" / 194 lbs
Projected Team
Buffalo
PROSPECT RNK
13th
POSITION RNK
2nd
Booth doesn't have the ceiling that the other corner prospects in this class have, but he's got a high floor. He makes a lot of sense from a fit and skill standpoint for a Buffalo defense that could use some reinforcements in its secondary.
Round 1 - Pick 26
Arkansas • 6'2" / 225 lbs
Projected Team
Tennessee
PROSPECT RNK
14th
POSITION RNK
3rd
Burks is one of my favorite prospects in this draft class. You know that teams will all be looking for "the next Deebo Samuel," and Burks is the guy most likely to get that comp. I'm not sure it's accurate, but it's understandable. He's big, much quicker than you think he'd be when you look at him, and is excellent after the catch. He can run away from people and run over people. In other words, he's a Titan.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Texas A&M • 6'4" / 290 lbs
Projected Team
Tampa Bay
PROSPECT RNK
32nd
POSITION RNK
4th
Light a candle for the interior offensive linemen who will have to face DeMarvin Leal for the next decade. Texas A&M moved him around the line a bit, but he's best suited for the interior where he can stop the run and also use a quick first step to get after the passer and help collapse the pocket.
Round 1 - Pick 28
Penn State • 6'3" / 256 lbs
Projected Team
Green Bay
PROSPECT RNK
43rd
POSITION RNK
7th
Ebiketie transferred to Penn State from Temple, and upon seeing him for the first time, I wondered how he ended up at Temple in the first place. He's got good size, the ideal length, and he never takes a snap off. It's full-send every time. That said, he needs some refining in his repertoire, but he has the potential to be a perennial All-Pro.
Round 1 - Pick 29
Michigan • 6'4" / 255 lbs
Projected Team
Miami
PROSPECT RNK
38th
POSITION RNK
5th
There's a lot to like about Ojabo from a size and athleticism standpoint, but I have some concerns. Playing on the other side of Aidan Hutchinson, Ojabo saw a lot of one-on-one battles, and he took advantage. Will he have the same production against NFL tackles? Also, like Ebiketie, he has a go-to move with his rip but does not yet have the complete arsenal of pass-rush moves.
Round 1 - Pick 30
Michigan • 6'0" / 192 lbs
Projected Team
Kansas City
PROSPECT RNK
POSITION RNK
If you're wondering how Michigan reached the College Football Playoff, three of its defenders going in the first-round is why. And as good as Hutchinson and Ojabo are, Daxton Hill was my favorite player to watch on the Michigan defense. He can do so many different things and line up in different places and perform well in all of them. While they're not the same player, he shares a lot of the same traits as current Chiefs defensive back Tyrann Mathieu.
Round 1 - Pick 31
Northern Iowa • 6'7" / 332 lbs
Projected Team
Cincinnati
PROSPECT RNK
75th
POSITION RNK
14th
OK, it's time to protect Joe Burrow. You've given him all the weapons he needs, now let's try to keep him upright. I haven't seen a lot of Penning, but a lot of people I've talked to say he's going to work his way into the first round, which says a lot considering the depth of the position available in this draft.
Round 1 - Pick 32
Penn State • 6'1" / 200 lbs
Projected Team
Detroit
PROSPECT RNK
63rd
POSITION RNK
5th
Brisker is an athletic freak who can play at both safety spots, but I prefer him in a free role that allows him to patrol and make plays on the ball. He always seems to find the ball. He's also a terrific tackler who quickly closes down the ball carrier and finishes through them. He's the kind of player who becomes a cult hero with the local fan base.