Nate's Final NFL Mock Draft
1. Jacksonville Jaguars - Travon Walker, DE, Georgia - We are almost certain that this will be defensive end taken first overall but the question remains, which one? With the likes of Walker, Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux all possibly worthy of the honors, all things point towards Walker. Walker is the purest true three-down defensive end in the draft. He’s as good of a run stopper as he is a pass disruptor. He has 4.51 speed coming off the edge with a 6’5” 272 pound frame. Those are freak level numbers. He can play in both an even and odd defensive front, making him a versatile option as well. Vegas seems to know what they’ve been doing over time and Walker is the favorite for this spot.
2. Detroit Lions - Malik Willis, QB, Liberty - I’m all aboard the Willis train and am really excited to see what he can do at the next level. He’s what you’re looking for in today’s NFL quarterback. He’s agile on his feet and can extend plays with his legs, but also has a cannon for an arm and can stretch the field vertically. He is obviously a bit raw playing for Liberty, but he was also once at Auburn in the SEC. He’s being compared to Jalen Hurts when it comes to running but with the arm strength of a prime Jay Cutler. That’s a deadly combination. He’ll need the right situation and being able to sit for a while and learn from the likes of Jared Goff would be beneficial for him.
3. Houston Texans - Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan - Hutchinson was a very productive defensive end in the Big Ten at Michigan and used his senior season to really propel himself into the top five category. For the longest time before the emergence of Travon Walker, he was the Jaguars’ consensus top overall selection. Hutchinson seems to be the type of “can’t miss” NFL potential, but just doesn’t have the ceiling that the likes of Walker could have. He has a rare combination of size, football IQ and athleticism. He’s a staggering 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds. Hutchinson could be the next great Texans’ defensive end joining the lists of Mario Williams, J.J. Watt and Jadaveon Clowney.
4. New York Jets - Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati - I was once a Gardner hater. I can admit that I was wrong. You don’t find his type of size at the cornerback position often at 6-foot-3. Along with his long frame, he has 4.41 40-yard speed. The Jets need a lot of help but with the defensive mastermind of Robert Salah leading the way, starting to get the right pieces on defense will go a long way. Gardner didn’t allow a single touchdown in college, but also was not facing NFL talent week-in-and-week-out. If there is a knock to his game it’s his below-average build and small lower body.
5. New York Giants - Ickey Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina State - If the Giants’ want to give it one last try with Daniel Jones, they have to improve their offensive line. As one of the worst in the league a year ago, they get their choice of prospects here at five. When it comes to overall ability, Ekwonu is the best there is in this draft. He’s great in both pass and run protection. Saquan Barkley is also a big piece of the Giants’ success, if there ever is going to be any. They need to further develop that line to allow him to get some room to work as well. Ekwonu has the size at 6-foot-4 and 310 pounds as well as the length to get the job done in the NFL. He’s a day-one starter and will also bring a fantastic attitude to the locker room as well.
6. Carolina Panthers - Evan Neal, OT, Alabama - There just isn’t another quarterback that is worthy of going this early and the Panthers were also very quick to accept Sam Darnold’s fifth year option. All signs point towards the team giving him another go at things. In doing so, they need to improve their line to give him more time to get the ball out of his hands. Along with that, Chirstian McCaffrey is the best runningback in the league arguably and is a huge part of any Panthers’ success. Neal is arguably the best run blocking tackle prospect in the league. As important as the run game is to Carolina, Neal seems to be an ideal fit.
7. New York Giants (via Chicago Bears) - Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame - In my belief, Hamilton is the best overall player in this draft. He’s today’s NFL safety that is big enough to step up and play linebacker yet athletic enough to play in coverage. We’ve seen the likes of Isaiah Simmons a few years back who was the same way and we saw him slide to the Cardinals’ on draft day. We may have another situation of that here with the value of other positions being more important. Hamilton has sideline-to-sideline speed at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds. The defensive versatility will go a long way in New York with several holes on defense.
8. Atlanta Falcons - Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State - The Falcons are entering the post Matt Ryan era with Marcus Mariota likely leading the way. They’ve also lost Calvin Ridley to a gambling suspension. They also lost Russell Gage this off-season to free agency. No team can thrive with the likes of Auden Tate and Olamide Zaccheaus as its top receivers. Wilson is easily the top receiving prospect in the draft. He has 4.38 40 yards speed and is one of the best when it comes to yards-after-the-catch in the entire draft. Wilson also compliments what Kyle Pitts does. The Falcons need playmakers in a desperate way.
9. Seattle Seahawks via Denver Broncos - Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State - Is Drew Lock the answer for the Seahawks? No. But the Seahawks may not have a choice in rolling him out this season. The Seahawks still have one of the worst offensive lines in the league and we saw how Russell Wilson struggled last year with this line and we also saw how Lock struggled with one of the best offensive lines in Denver. Anyhow, the Seahawks need to improve their line, there’s no way around that. Charles Cross has the size at 6-foot-5 and 307 pounds. He played in the SEC as well, facing NFL talent week-in-and-week-out and played with consistency from game-to-game. Although not a top tier athlete, he plays with elite strength and has some of the best hands in the draft.
10. New York Jets via Seattle Seahawks - Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama - If it wasn’t for a torn ACL, Williams would be the top wide receiver taken in this draft and he very well could still be. The Jets used their first of two top ten selections to get their defensive playmaker and now they look to get Zach Wilson a new offensive weapon. Williams has Tyreek Hill type speed and is a game changer even without the ball in his hands. This pick has been heavily speculated to be involved in a blockbuster to land All-Pro receiver Deebo Samuel from the 49ers. Without projecting trades in this mock draft, they look for their own future All-Pro type receiver in Williams.
11. Washington Commanders - Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon - This could end up being the steal of the draft. Thibodeaux has the size at 6-foot-4 and 254 pounds and all of the length needed to succeed in the NFL. Thibodeaux has top five talent. He is far from a finished product which adds to the allure in selecting him. He’s one of the best athletes in the draft and may be the best athlete at the defensive end position in this draft. The Commanders are in a position to take the best player available at 11 and that would easily be Thibodeaux.
12. Minnesota Vikings - Derek Stingley, CB, LSU - Luckily for the Vikings, who are in desperate need of defensive back help, Stingley is still on the board at 12. Stingley is the type of “boom-or-bust” prospect that could become a ProBowl type corner or could see himself on the bench. Stingley is a gifted corner who possesses a rare combination of size, speed and explosiveness. He did play in the SEC playing against NFL talent every week. I’m a believer that Stingley will be serviceable but I think there may be better options even at this point of the draft.
13. Houston Texans via Cleveland Browns - Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas - Burks is a very interesting product. We saw what the likes and builds of the Deebo Samuels of the league can do and Burks plays a similar game. He’s 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds. He’s a downhill runner with the ball in his hands as well. His yards-after-the-catch ability may be the best in the entire draft. If the Texans are to maintain Brandin Cooks, getting a big body possession type of receiver who can play all over the field would compliment him well and be a nice one-two punch for Davis Mills.
14. Baltimore Ravens - Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia - If any franchise is to know the value of a dominant nose tackle, it’s the Ravens. Just as Haloti Ngata dominated opposing interior offensive lineman for over a decade, Davis could have that type of impact. He’s a very rare athlete for his size. He’s a monster of a man at 6-foot-6 and 341 pounds but also has 4.78 40 yard speed. He’ll occupy the center of the offensive line, drawing attention away from the edges. He’s a game changer type of presence by simply being on the field.
15. Philadelphia Eagles via Miami Dolphins - Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa - Linderbaum is arguably the best offensive lineman in the entire draft, he just plays center, therefore taking down his draft stock. Linderbaum can also play guard in the NFL. With two first round selections, the Eagles can go best-player-available here at 15 before looking to fill a need with the later of their two selections.
16. New Orleans Saints from Indianapolis Colts - Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa - The Saints lost Terron Armstead to the Dolphins this offseason and will look to the draft to replace him. Penning has been described as a “freak athlete” with a “nasty attitude” on the field. He gives the Saints the highest ceiling in competing with their current roster and Jameis Winston, who they have to invest in protecting after he tore his ACL a season ago. Penning is a staggering 6-foot-7 and has all of the length needed to play tackle at the next level.
17. Los Angeles Chargers - Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State - Imagine this. Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Chris Olave. This instantly gives Justin Herbert one of the best receiving corps in the entire league. You have one of everything in this case. Olave may be the best route runner in the entire draft. Allen and Williams on the outside with Olave in the slot. I know there may be bigger needs on this team, but this possibility is too enticing for me.
18. Philadelphia Eagles via New Orleans Saints - Drake London, WR, USC - The Eagles took three straight years of selecting a wide receiver in the first round to finally hit on one in Heisman winner Devonta Smith. They’ll try yet again here this year with multiple first round selections. The Eagles could get the perfect running mate for Smith in the 6-foot-4 London. With Smith being a shifty type of receiver, London could be Hurts’ big body jump-ball type of receiver that is lacking from this team. London was once a coveted basketball prospect, so his point to the ball in the air is very good as well. This pick makes a lot of sense in my opinion.
19. New Orleans Saints via Philadelphia Eagles - Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan - The Saints are missing out on the big names at receiver but still have a gaping hole at the position. Luckily for them, Moore is still a bit underrated. He possesses elite shiftiness and can run routes with the best of them. He comes with 4.4 40 yard speed. He also has a knack to come up with contested catches all over the field. After already investing in their offensive line it’s time they look for some weapons.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers - Zion Johnson, OG, Boston College - The Steelers are a team typically known for their smash mouth, downhill play style. However, with the status of their offensive line, that’s not a possibility. They quickly went from one of the best to one of the worst in the league in the mater of a few seasons. Johnson is the top guard prospect in the draft if you don’t consider Linderbaum a guard. The Steelers need to protect Mitchaell Trubisky and allow running lanes to take some of the pressure off him if they want him to succeed.
21. New England Patriots - Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida - I’m a big Elam guy. I personally think he may be the best corner in the entire draft, which hurts me to mock him to the Patriots. Elam is nearly 6-foot-2 and has sub 4.4 40 yard speed. He has all the length needed to play corner at the next level and as I always say, he played his college ball in the SEC, going up against NFL caliber receivers every week. Elam is great in mirroring opposing receivers and has fantastic footwork to change direction to stay with them.
22. Green Bay Packers via Las Vegas Raiders - George Pickens, WR, Georgia - Pickens would have ranked much higher in this draft if it wasn’t for a torn ACL, forcing him out of the majority of his last year at Georgia. At 6-foot-3 he has a fantastic catch radius. He’s best as an outside receiver who possesses exciting ball skills. The Packers must take a receiver to replace Devante Adams. Pickens has WR1 potential.
23. Arizona Cardinals - George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue - The Cardinals can pretty much go with the best defensive player available here and still fill a team need. With that being said, they are in need of a pass rushing presence as the likes of Chandler Jones have moved onto the Las Vegas Raiders. Karlaftis is an exciting prospect who is a bit raw. Karlaftis is your “iron man” type of player who will play nearly every defense snap and do whatever is asked of him. There are some things you can’t teach and that is one of them.
24. Dallas Cowboys - Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan - It’s hard to believe that just two years ago Raimann was playing tight end. Last season, Raimann allowed just ten overall quarterback pressures and finished with the second highest blocking rating in all of college football. The Cowboys could go several directions with this pick but getting a dominant offensive line again is the most important thing for the success of their team right now.
25. Buffalo Bills - Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington - If McDuffie had just a bit more length, he could be the best cornerback in this draft. A little on the small side at 5-foot-11, the Pac 12 stand allowed just 16 catches from 36 targets for 111 yards. These numbers are rather impressive especially for a league known for high flying offenses. McDuffie has what it takes to be a starting corner in the NFL.
26. Tennessee Titans - Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M - I love what Green brings to the table. He is one of, if not, the most versatile offensive lineman in this draft. He’ll likely find a home as a guard in the NFL, but does have the size and ability to spot play tackle as well. With the running game being the bread-and-butter of this team, investing in the offensive line makes a lot of sense.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss - I don’t know how much I believe this because this team is obviously all in on winning in what is likely (maybe?) to be Tom Brady’s final season but they also have to think of the future. It’s not every day that you can get the second best quarterback of the draft with pick 27. Kyle Trask is not the answer in Tampa, no matter what you want to think. Corral is my favorite quarterback of the draft and I’ve often compared him to the likes of Zach Wilson.
28. Green Bay Packers - Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah - The Packers’ got their receiver and now look to bolster their defense. Devin Lloyd is far-and-away the best linebacking prospect in this draft. He brings sideline-to-sideline speed. He also can take on blocks, blitz and cover tight ends at a high level. Lloyd can play all over the defensive side of the ball and for a team looking to cash in on the final years of Aaron Rodgers’ career, a captain on defense can go a long way.
29. Kansas City Chiefs via San Francisco 49ers - Lewis Cine, S, Georgia - Tyrann Mathieu is still a free agent so there’s still a chance he leaves Kansas City, leaving a big hole on defense. Cine isn’t the best safety when it comes to coverage but when it comes to tackling, there are not many better. He missed just 11 tackles on 159 attempts in his collegiate career. As the final man to beat in a defense, you’re not making Cine miss all too often.
30. Kansas City Chiefs - Devonte Wyatt, DL, Georgia - When it comes to Georgia defensive tackles, Wyatt is easily the most explosive and the better athlete of the two. Wyatt really climbed draft boards at the senior bowl where he was simply dominant. He finished last season with a 84 grade as well, playing alongside Jordan Davis.
31. Cincinnati Bengals - Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa - When it comes to run blocking, Smith is one of the best in this entire draft. This is straightforward here. Joe Burrow broke the record for winning a playoff game while being sacked the most. It’s honestly impressive what he’s been able to do with this team despite the horrid play of his offensive line. The team has to go to the offensive line here, there’s no way around that.
32. Detroit Lions via Los Angeles Rams - Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson - The Lions already used this draft to select their quarterback of the future now they look to bolster their porous defense. Playing opposite Jeff Okudah, Booth would be a perfect fit. Booth has the best footwork in the entire draft when it comes to defense backs. The Lions could use this pick to find weapons or add to their offensive line for their quarterback as well.