As the stage gets set for the Super Bowl, the NFL Draft gets an even clearer picture. 30 of 32 teams have turned their focus to the off-season, including the NFL Draft on April 27. With that, understanding how front offices might attack the draft becomes crucial.
Although mock drafts are an imperfect science, they’re perfect for setting the scene. Ultimately, no mock draft in January will be perfect, but they can help paint a picture of what teams need and how they can use the resources available.
Here at Vikings Wire, we’ll have you covered on the ever-changing NFL Draft landscape.
1. Chicago Bears: Alabama EDGE Will Anderson
The Chicago Bears could choose to trade down, but they need talent. In this mock draft, the Bears stay put and address a massive need. After trading Robert Quinn at the deadline, the Bears have desperately needed a piece to build the defense around. Will Anderson would be a no-brainer for this and could be a massive boost for the Bears’ fortunes.
2. Houston Texans: Alabama QB Bryce Young
It goes without saying, but Davis Mills is not the future of an NFL franchise. As a result, the Houston Texans look towards the draft to get their franchise quarterback. Bryce Young isn’t a perfect quarterback prospect, but there might not be a more NFL-ready signal-caller in the draft.
3. Arizona Cardinals: Georgia DT Jalen Carter
The Arizona Cardinals defensive line needs an injection of talent, and Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter is just that. Considered by some to be the best defensive player on the 2021 Georgia team, Carter is a rare blend of size and athleticism for the defensive line. Combine that with a sky-high ceiling, and this quickly becomes a no-brainer for the Cardinals.
4. Indianapolis Colts: Kentucky QB Will Levis
There are few quarterbacks with as many traits as Will Levis. He has one of the strongest arms in the draft and has plenty of athleticism to make him a dual-threat quarterback. The problem is that his film shows concerning valleys that lower his floor. While the Colts could opt for a higher floor, Chris Ballard takes a swing for the fences with Levis.
5. Carolina Panthers (via Seattle): Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud
Trade Details: Seattle trades1.05 to Carolina for 1.09, 2.61 (via San Francisco), 2024 1st round pick
The musical chairs are over for the Carolina Panthers. After starting four quarterbacks last season, the Panthers begin their new era with a centerpiece. For head coach Frank Reich, Stroud is a quarterback that won’t need as much seasoning as others. He’d likely start immediately, and the Panthers could build a solid core to help him develop.
6. Detroit Lions: Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez
The Las Vegas Raiders are in a precarious situation. They need a quarterback after choosing to part ways with Derek Carr but could choose to address a host of needs on both sides of the ball, including offensive line. While trading down would be advantageous, Anthony Richardson would add a distinct buzz for the Raiders. Pairing him with Davante Adams should help him develop too.
7. Las Vegas Raiders: Florida QB Anthony Richardson
The Las Vegas Raiders are in a precarious situation. They need a quarterback after choosing to part ways with Derek Carr, but could choose to address a host of needs on both sides of the ball. While trading down would be advantageous, Anthony Richardson would add a distinct buzz for the Raiders. Pairing him with Davante Adams should help him develop too.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Texas Tech EDGE Tyree Wilson
The Atlanta Falcons haven’t had much of a pass rush sans Grady Jarrett. Lorenzo Carter added four sacks, while Arnold Ebiketie added just two and a half. While adding one edge rusher won’t solve all their problems, it will be a vast improvement for a team needing immediate help. Tyree Wilson is a unique case of physicality and versatility that NFL teams desire from edge rushers.
9. Seattle Seahawks (via Carolina): Clemson DT Bryan Breese
The Seattle Seahawks chose to trade out of the quarterback sweepstakes, meaning they’ll have to pivot. In this case, Clemson defensive tackle Bryan Breese would be an example of pivoting and still gaining value. He’s a multi-dimensional defensive lineman and could wear different hats for the Seahawks’ defense. The boost a talent like Breese adds would elevate the entire defense.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (via New Orleans): Clemson EDGE Myles Murphy
Cornerback is a need for Philadelphia, but there’s a good chance James Bradberry earns an extension after his strong season. The Eagles’ front seven, on the other hand, will look different in 2023. Fletcher Cox and Robert Quinn are free agents, as are multiple interior defensive linemen. Clemson edge rusher Myles Murphy would pair nicely with Haason Reddick and help retool the Eagles’ pass rush.
11. Tennessee Titans: Northwestern OT Peter Skronski
The Tennessee Titans’ current left tackle is Dennis Daley. Need I say more? Simply put, the Titans need to address the offensive line. They need to add higher-quality players across the line to help protect their quarterback — whoever it may be — and open up lanes for Derrick Henry. Peter Skronski has experience playing left tackle in college and would slot right in for the Titans.
12. Houston Texas (via Cleveland): TCU WR Quentin Johnston
The Houston Texans have needs across the board, but giving help to their new quarterback should be near the top. With the potential departure of Brandin Cooks, the Texans should prioritize a wide receiver. While John Metchie III could make an impact next season, his status for next season is still a question mark. Quentin Johnson would a great fit next to Young (and potentially Metchie), giving him a dynamic weapon to throw to.
13. New York Jets: Ohio State OT Paris Johnson Jr.
The New York Jets have made moves to address the offensive line, but that work is ongoing. Paris Johnson’s long-term role in the NFL is questionable, but his versatility is a strength. The Jets can afford to experiment with his role and find what works for the offensive line. Early on, though, it would probably be right tackle for the former Buckeye.
14. New England Patriots: Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon
The New England Patriots will likely look to re-sign unrestricted free agent Jonathan Jones, but upgrading at cornerback should still be a priority. Particularly, the upgrade should be a boundary cornerback who can add some needed height into the room. Fresh off a career season, Devon Witherspoon makes a lot of sense for the Patriots. At 6 feet tall, Witherspoon would add much-needed size to the room and be an upgrade over Jalen Mills.
15. Green Bay Packers: Alabama SAF Brian Branch
With Adrian Amos seeming to slow down and Darnell Savage seeing a reduction in his snaps, safety has become a pressing need for Green Bay. Brian Brach would help solve that need and include a versatile chess piece for the Packers. Branch has played all over the field and could be a massive boost for the Packers’ secondary.
16. Washington Commanders: Penn State CB Joey Porter, Jr.
Washington needs a quarterback, but there isn’t one available at this spot, so let’s pivot to another need. The Commanders’ cornerback room is already thin, and Kendall Fuller could be a cap casualty this off-season. Joey Porter, Jr. would start immediately for Washington and provide high-level playmaking ability in the secondary.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Georgia CB Kelee Ringo
The Pittsburgh Steelers can’t go into next season with their rag-tag group of cornerbacks. Kelee Ringo has some problems attacking the ball, but his athleticism is unmatched and will help him make an immediate impact in the NFL. For the Steelers, he’ll start on the boundary alongside and help cover some of the talented wide receivers the division has to offer.
18. Detroit Lions: Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer
The Detroit Lions traded TJ Hockenson to the Minnesota Vikings during the trade deadline, leaving a gaping hole at tight end. While Brock Wright made some plays down the stretch, Michael Mayer is a clear upgrade. Mayer would provide the Lions with another quality receiving option next to emerging wide receiver Amon’Ra St. Brown. His ability to win over the middle would also open up the Lions offense, and give the Lions’ quarterback – whether it’s Jared Goff or someone else – an option they can rely on.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: South Carolina CB Cam Smith
Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean are free agents, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ depth at cornerback is thin. Drafting Smith would allow the Buccaneers to move on from one of Murphy-Bunting or Dean and use that cap space on other pieces to help accelerate a retool. Although Cam Smith doesn’t have the prototypical frame, his fluidity more than makes up for it and makes him a day-one starter in the league.
20. Seattle Seahawks: USC WR Jordan Addison
It might be a luxury pick to some, but wide receiver is a sneaky need for the Seattle Seahawks. As good as DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are, the Seahawks don’t have a reliable third wide receiver that can win on the outside. Jordan Addison fits that bill with his ability to separate in different ways. Selecting Addison would also allow Lockett to play in the slot, where he’s one of the NFL’s best.
21. Forfeited pick by the Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins forfeited their first round pick after an NFL investigation revealed the team violated the league’s policies regarding tampering.
22. Los Angeles Chargers: Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
The Los Angeles Chargers’ offense was firing when their wide receivers were healthy. The inherent problem is that Mike Williams and Keenan Allen both have extensive injury histories and struggled to remain on the field. Can we fix that? Although Jaxon Smith-Njigba lacks the explosiveness the Chargers need his ability to separate at such a high level more than makes up for that.
23. Baltimore Ravens: Boston College WR Zay Flowers
The Baltimore Ravens have neglected the wide receiver position for long enough. After years of selecting receivers later in the draft, finding a potential game-changer would benefit the offense greatly. Zay Flowers offers the Ravens’ offense a home-run threat, and his dynamic athleticism will allow him to make plays at all three levels. Regardless of who the Ravens’ starting quarterback is, Flowers should be an impactful player as a rookie.
24. Minnesota Vikings: Maryland CB Deonte Banks
Patrick Peterson turned back the clock for the Minnesota Vikings, but father time is still undefeated. Deonte Banks is a physical corner with some fluid movement to win in man-to-man coverage. If Banks can clean up some of his technique, his ball skills make him a unique playmaker on the backend. Pairing him next to Andrew Booth could also address the Vikings’ cornerback room for the foreseeable future.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars: Georgia TE Darnell Washington
Evan Engram enjoyed a revitalization for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but Doug Pederson wants to play in 12 personnel. Ideally, selecting a tight end who can play attached to the line of scrimmage should be a priority because it opens up where Engram is best. Darnell Washington is one of the most physical players in the draft, and he’s no stranger to two tight end sets. Selecting Washington would give the Jaguars a high-end blocker and reliable receiving weapon for Trevor Lawrence.
26. New York Giants: Utah CB Clark Phillips II
The playoff window is open for the New York Giants, and it’s time to treat it as such. Cornerback Fabian Moreau played 66% of their snaps, but he’s an unrestricted free agent, and the Giants aren’t swimming in cap space. Clark Phillips II is slightly undersized, but his instincts and ball skills make him an intriguing fit on the outside. His success in man coverage is also a strength in a Wink Martindale system that relies on blitzing the quarterback.
27. Dallas Cowboys: Texas RB Bijan Robinson
Jerry Jones loves to make flashy moves. With Tony Pollard entering free agency, could that splash come at running back? Bijan Robinson was one of the best running backs in college football, and he played at the University of Texas. Robinson fits the skillset of a modern running back who can contribute in different areas. With the talent the Cowboys have along the offensive line, Robinson could be one of the league’s most electric running backs.
28. Buffalo Bills: LSU Edge B.J. Ojulari
The Buffalo Bills struggled to get past a banged-up Cincinnati Bengals offensive line, exposing a major need for the defense. Getting Von Miller healthy will be a massive boost, but pass rush is crucial in the AFC. B.J. Ojulari isn’t a complete product, but his athleticism and upside as a pass rusher make him an exciting prospect.
29. Cincinnati Bengals: Florida OL O’Cyrus Torrence
The Cincinnati Bengals made strides to fix the offensive line last season, but the work is hardly over. Their two starting offensive guards are Alex Cappa and Cordell Volson, and upgrading along the interior could help boost the offense. With O’Cyrus Torrence’s versatility, the Bengals could choose to play him at either spot and continue to improve where it matters the most.
30. Denver Broncos (via San Francisco): Iowa Edge Lukas Van Ness
If the Denver Broncos choose to stay in odd-man fronts, getting a potential game-changer on the line should be a priority. The Broncos could also use help in the pass rush department after trading Bradley Chubb at the trade deadline. Lukas Van Ness doesn’t have a complete pass-rush tool belt, but there’s reason to believe he can improve with some additional growth as a player.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: SMU WR Rashee Rice
JuJu Smith-Schuster and MeCole Hardman are free agents, and the Kansas City Chiefs have a long list of inconsistent wide receivers. That’s a recipe for disaster in a league that’s seeing wide receivers become increasingly valuable. Rashee Rice doesn’t have the most diverse route tree, but his explosiveness is hard to replicate. If he diversifies that route tree, Rice can be a versatile wide receiver that elevates an offense.
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs
Miles Sanders is an unrestricted free agent, and while he’s an impactful starter for the Eagles, he’s still replaceable. While the Eagles could choose to re-sign Sanders, drafting a running back could help save money for other positions. Although Gibbs is an effective runner, his ability as a receiving back is unique and makes him a versatile running back prospect for the NFL.