It is the time of year when NFL teams are clinching and being eliminated from the playoff picture on a weekly basis. As the draft order comes into focus, it will become easier to start dissecting each possibility and putting the puzzle together in time for April. In today's thought exercise, we explore which teams will take a quarterback and what happens if a team is not in love with one of the remaining options at the position.
The draft order below is now the official order based on team records and tiebreakers. There is not a No. 24 pick here, as that's the pick the Dolphins forfeited due to tampering violations.
Without further ado, let's kick this off!
Round 1 - Pick 1
Bryce Young QB
Alabama • Jr • 5'10" / 204 lbs
Houston is a mere few weeks from officially locking up the No. 1 overall selection and securing its position to take a potential franchise quarterback. Young is the top quarterback prospect for me, but he may not be everyone's cup of tea because of his lack of ideal size.
From Denver Broncos
Round 1 - Pick 2
Will Levis QB
Kentucky • Sr • 6'4" / 229 lbs
I have been pushing the narrative that Seattle needs to take a quarterback this year. The Seahawks have lost three of the last four games, so while Geno Smith is a good option presently, it is not a sustainable long-term plan.
Round 1 - Pick 3
Will Anderson Jr. EDGE
Alabama • Jr • 6'4" / 253 lbs
Chicago is in a position to take the first non-quarterback or trade to a team looking to take one of those potential franchise quarterbacks. In this situation, the opportunity to take a potential defensive tentpole is too much to bypass.
From Los Angeles Rams
Round 1 - Pick 4
Jalen Carter DL
Georgia • Jr • 6'3" / 314 lbs
It's December, so we can occasionally play out a scenario where Detroit does not take a quarterback. What if C.J. Stroud is not highly thought of inside that building? The Lions would theoretically add a defender who can take pressure off of Aidan Hutchinson.
From New Orleans Saints
Round 1 - Pick 5
Myles Murphy DL
Clemson • Jr • 6'5" / 268 lbs
Philadelphia has a philosophical strategy to build the roster through the trenches. Myles Murphy would be a staple on that unit whereas the Eagles primarily feature short-term options on the edge.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Kelee Ringo CB
Georgia • Soph • 6'2" / 207 lbs
Arizona is towards the middle of the league in regards to man and zone coverage distribution. Ringo is a player with exposure to both defensive elements. He checks all of the height, weight and speed boxes.
Round 1 - Pick 7
C.J. Stroud QB
Ohio State • Jr • 6'3" / 214 lbs
Indianapolis was probably sweating out the possibility of Stroud lasting until its selection. After years of chasing veteran options to replace Andrew Luck, the Colts finally take the plunge with a rookie quarterback.
Round 1 - Pick 8
Oregon • Soph • 6'1" / 197 lbs
It should come as no surprise that Las Vegas plays one of the higher rates of man coverage in the league considering Josh McDaniels' roots in New England. Gonzalez is a lengthy cornerback with the physical attributes to excel in man coverage.
Round 1 - Pick 9
Florida • Soph • 6'4" / 244 lbs
Carolina's desperate pursuit of a quarterback continues as it selects Richardson. It would be an awful situation for Richardson, in theory, if the Panthers expect him to play and succeed immediately. He needs time, which comes with trial and error.
Round 1 - Pick 10
Texas • Jr • 5'11" / 215 lbs
If Atlanta gets shut out of the quarterback market, the blue-chip defenders are off the board and there is a lack of high-end wide receiver talent, then Robinson may be the best option. He is a blue-chip player, but not at a critical position.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Bryan Bresee DL
Clemson • Soph • 6'6" / 298 lbs
It will be interesting to see what ultimately comes of Bresee's draft stock. He has battled injuries and other adversity throughout his career. Jacksonville continues stockpiling first-round picks in its defensive front seven.
From Cleveland Browns
Round 1 - Pick 12
Tyree Wilson EDGE
Texas Tech • Sr • 6'6" / 271 lbs
Houston has consistently had a physically gifted pass rusher, whether it be Mario Williams or Jadeveon Clowney. Wilson has the length that NFL defensive line coaches covet. Can he continue developing into the player his talent suggests he can become?
Round 1 - Pick 13
Ohio State • Jr • 6'6" / 313 lbs
The NFL draft is setting up well for Pittsburgh. It should be able to fill a big need at either offensive tackle or cornerback at this stage of the first round. In this scenario, it adds the left tackle from Columbus.
Round 1 - Pick 14
Georgia • Jr • 6'7" / 264 lbs
When envisioning what kind of player Green Bay would want to support Aaron Rodgers, one way to impact both the pass and run games, is to add a tight end. Washington is a red zone threat with insane size, but he also excels as an inline blocker who can positively impact the wide zone run scheme.
Round 1 - Pick 15
Notre Dame • Jr • 6'5" / 249 lbs
Detroit chose not to take a quarterback, so it leans into a future with Jared Goff by continuing to add talent on offense. Mayer is a reliable, physical player who should endear himself to head coach Dan Campbell and a suddenly surging Lions franchise.
Round 1 - Pick 16
Northwestern • Jr • 6'4" / 313 lbs
I am intrigued to learn what plans Los Angeles has for Jamaree Salyer upon Rashawn Slater's return. Will he slide inside or flip sides to right tackle? Skoronski has five-positional flexibility, so that at least gives the Chargers options on the offensive line.
Round 1 - Pick 17
Jared Verse EDGE
Florida State • Soph • 6'4" / 248 lbs
Seattle has a potential pass rusher in Boye Mafe, but it doubles down by adding Verse. In an ideal situation, both develop into key contributors.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Clemson • Jr • 6'2" / 235 lbs
Robert Saleh had Fred Warner when he was defensive coordinator of the 49ers. I trust he can find ways to utilize Simpson's well-rounded, unique skillset. There could be opportunities to mix and match blitz packages with threats up and down the line.
Round 1 - Pick 19
Penn State • Jr • 6'3" / 193 lbs
Tampa Bay's future is the most difficult to predict. Will the Bucs run it back with Tom Brady or has that window closed? Are they rebuilding or attempting to extend their contention window?
Round 1 - Pick 20
TCU • Jr • 6'3" / 208 lbs
Tennessee does not apparently believe in lucrative wide receiver contract extensions, so it brings in a first-round rookie for the second consecutive year to stagger the financial burden while also diversifying the talent at the position.
Round 1 - Pick 21
Georgia • Soph • 6'5" / 311 lbs
New England theoretically moves on from one former Georgia left tackle (Isaiah Wynn) only to select another. Jones is a work in progress, but he has more of the length that is often coveted at the position and restarts the financial clock on a rookie's salary.
Round 1 - Pick 22
Cam Smith CB
South Carolina • Jr • 6'1" / 180 lbs
Washington has invested a significant amount of resources into the defense, and that investment finally reaches the third level of the defense.
Round 1 - Pick 23
USC • Jr • 5'11" / 173 lbs
New York needs cornerback and wide receiver help, but a run at the former leads to the Giants building a wide receiver room with Wan'Dale Robinson and Addison.
From San Francisco 49ers
Round 1 - Pick 25
Brian Branch CB
Alabama • Jr • 6'0" / 190 lbs
Denver builds out its secondary with Patrick Surtain II and Branch. Communication should be clean with two defensive backs coached by Nick Saban on the backend.
Round 1 - Pick 26
Illinois • Jr • 6'0" / 181 lbs
Marcus Peters is scheduled to hit free agency after the season, so Witherspoon allows the position to remain a strength.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Utah • Soph • 5'9" / 184 lbs
Injuries have led Cam Taylor-Britt to get more run of late, and those repetitions will benefit him in the long run. Cincinnati continues getting younger and more talented at the position with Phillips.
Round 1 - Pick 28
Nolan Smith EDGE
Georgia • Sr • 6'2" / 238 lbs
Smith is coming off an injury so the medical evaluations will be important, but that does not stop Dallas from using a first-round pick on a player who provides the team with more pass-rush ability off the edge while giving defensive coordinator Dan Quinn the freedom to mix and match pre-snap looks.
Round 1 - Pick 29
Jahmyr Gibbs RB
Alabama • Jr • 5'9" / 199 lbs
Gibbs gets shoehorned into this mock draft each week because he is talented enough to be here. Andy Reid's creative nature should allow the Alabama running back to be his most effective.
Round 1 - Pick 30
Ohio State • Jr • 6'1" / 196 lbs
Smith-Njigba is a good route runner, and that should lead to an easy transition to the NFL. He has missed most of the season with an injury, but the hope is that he is healthy enough to turn some heads during the pre-draft process. Minnesota gets a wide receiver to complement Justin Jefferson long-term.
Round 1 - Pick 31
Florida • Jr • 6'5" / 330 lbs
Buffalo fills out its offensive line with the selection of Torrence.
Round 1 - Pick 32
Texas A&M • Jr • 6'2" / 198 lbs
The Eagles have few needs, so it really boils down to best player available for them. I could see them trading back and gaining draft capital in the process if the opportunity presents itself.