Nate's NFL Mock Draft 1.0
1. Chicago Bears - Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama - The Bears have their quarterback in Justin Fields. They’ll almost certainly not make this selection come draft day but as I don’t predict trades in my mock drafts, I’ll have them making this selection. At this point of the process, there’s two options here and they serve as the 1A and 1B. That 1A is Will Anderson of Alabama. If you’re looking for a word to describe Anderson, it is “unblockable.” Anderson possesses the strength and explosiveness that once he hits the edge after a twist or stunt there’s nothing for opposing offensive linemen to do. He attacks offensive linemen and simply overpowers them. Anderson, in my opinion, was the best overall player in college football.
2. Houston Texans - Will Levis, QB, Kentucky - The Texans used a two-point conversion to win their final game of the season and in return lost possession of the first overall pick. They’ll likely have to swap spots with the Bears to get their pick of the quarterback crop. In this scenario they get their choice and to me, that’s Will Levis. Levis still has a ton of development to do but he already showed that is possible after his massive leap after transferring from Penn State to Kentucky. What you can’t teach however is arm talent and Levis has the best arm of anyone in this draft. You also can’t teach size. Levis is built like our prototypical NFL quarterback at 6-foot-3, 232 pounds. It’s a gamble, there’s no doubt about that, but one the Texans need to make.
3. Arizona Cardinals - Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia - The Cardinals could simply use help at any position on the defensive side of the ball. Their main issue may primarily be cornerback but you’re not taking one of them at three. Instead, they get the 1B in this draft I previously alluded to. Green is set to be best in an odd front defensive line and that’s what Vance Joseph and the Cardinals run. Carter’s first step alone causes fits to opposing offensive linemen. His close area quickness and explosiveness is unmatched, causing the less-athletic offensive guards and center to be reactive instead of proactive. His footwork too is something special. On top of all of this, he has the power to overwhelm opponents. He also comes with a fluid and flexible lower body that allows him to cover ground in a hurry.
4. Indianapolis Colts - CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State - What Stroud did to the Georgia defense in the National Championship Semi-Finals can’t be ignored. Playing against a defense littered with NFL talent, Stroud had his way. Stroud has an impressive combination of size, arm talent and mobility. Simply put, he’s dynamic. He showed massive improvements from the start of the season to the end, which is always promising. His arm is not what we would call elite, but it is good. He has a high football IQ and reads the game naturally. He’s probably the best anticipation passer in this draft and when you combine that with his flashes of elite accuracy and ability to push the ball down the field, you have a franchise quarterback. This all comes in his 6-foot-3, 218 pound frame. The Colts need to stop attempting this “recycle” program of aging NFL quarterbacks and find their guy of the future.
5. Seattle Seahawks via Denver Broncos - Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson - The Seahawks must reward Geno Smith after his impressive and improbable season and allow him the ability to quarterback this team for at least one more season. With that being said, Seattle will get to address another massive need with the pick they acquired from the Broncos in part of the Russell Wilson deal. At 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds, Murphy has a rare combination of speed and size. He’s shown steady development from his first snap to his last while in college. He’s also a consistent and proven producer. He doesn't disappear often and always seems to be in the middle of everything. He can play in any formation and front, making him ideal for a team with plenty of needs across their defensive front. On top of being an ideal football player, he’s an ideal person as well. Simply put, he’s one of those “locker room guys'' that players like to be around.
6. Detroit Lions via Los Angeles Rams - Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU - Johnston is a rare breed, simply put. He’s a massive receiver at 6-foot-4, 212 pounds that moves like a 5-foot-10 speedster. He has a very surprising burst and flatline speed for a player of his size. Johnston has the speed to get on top of defenders and stack them. The combination of speed and stride length allows him to erase any cushion. What really sets Johnston apart is his short area quickness and acceleration that allows him to run short and intermediate routes as well. Being such a downfield threat and with the ability to cut inside, he keeps the corner guessing. With all of that and his combination of speed and size, Johnston is going to be a problem for years to come in the NFL. You pair him with the speedster Jameson Williams and the reception machine Amon-Ra St. Brown, the Lions would have one of the better receiving corps in the leagues.
7. Las Vegas Raiders - Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern - I want to project a quarterback here so badly but the Raiders seem to be an ideal situation for one of the upcoming free agents. Although with plenty of weapons and pieces in place, there's still work to be done for this six win team. They do need to address their offensive line, namely right tackle. Skoronski is fresh off one of the best offensive lineman seasons in the history of college football. One thing about Skoronski is the way he processes the game. He has such a high football IQ. His hands are great as well. He has both the usage and technique to sustain blocks. He’s best in the run game with his ability to move in all concepts but is also a great pass blocker, which fits perfectly in Vegas as they look for a plug-and-play right tackle.
8. Atlanta Falcons - Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson - When you see Bryan Bresee, you instantly think defensive tackle. His physical skill set is simply impressive. He’s a monster on a man at 6-foot-5, 300 pounds. Although massive, he still possesses elite athleticism. He’s twitchy and has no problem getting through lateral contact. His football IQ too is elite as he seems to always know where the ball is at any given moment and with his long strides, he gets to the ball quickly. Bresee has the versatility to move across the defensive line in different schemes at the next level but will make his living in the middle of the defensive line. For a team very poor against the run (23rd) and even worse at getting to the quarterback (averaging 1.2 sacks-per-game,) a versatile defensive lineman is exactly what they need.
9. Carolina Panthers - Bryce Young, QB, Alabama - You were probably wondering when we’d get to Bryce Young. Here we are. I want to believe that size doesn’t matter in the NFL when it comes to quarterbacks, but it does. As it stands right now, just two starting quarterbacks would be the same height or smaller than Young (Kyler Murray & Russell Wilson.) I could be wrong here because despite his size, Young is an elite prospect. He has a very high football IQ, something that can not be taught. The game and its flow comes naturally to Young. He can read defenses with ease and make the right decisions. He also has the ability to adapt with his instincts if the play breaks down, getting out of the pocket and finding an open receiver. Again, this is all stuff that can’t be taught. He too is a born leader. He is the most accurate of the quarterbacks in this draft and can make throws from multiple arm angles. He’s probably the best “quarterback” in this draft.
10. Philadelphia Eagles via New Orleans Saints - Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State - Philadelphia’s top two cornerbacks, Darius Slay (32) and James Bradberry (29) are getting up there in age. Also, Bradberry has played a bit above his means this season. It wouldn’t hurt for the team to get the top corner in the draft to keep this once porous secondary heading in the right direction. What sets Porter Jr. above the rest is his length. He may be the longest corner in the entire country. He’s listed at 6-foot-2, which is tall for a corner, but his length is much more than that. Porter Jr. is going to be the best in press-man on the outside, taming those seeking the deep ball. He has sub 4.5 40-yard-dash speed combined with his length, he’ll be hard to beat. He is a bit inexperienced and has a lot to learn when it comes to the next level but let's also not forget that he comes from an NFL lineage. With Slay and Bradberry ahead of him and joining a team and roster he can wait and learn on, Porter Jr. has the potential to be special.
11. Tennessee Titans - Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State - If the Titans are going to make Malik Willis work, they need to give him some protection. Johnson Jr. has the size you need to be an NFL offensive tackle at 6-foot-6, 315 pounds. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Johnson Jr. ends up being the first tackle taken in this draft. He has a fantastic baseline but has the highest ceiling of any offensive lineman in this draft. What I’m getting at is that Johnson Jr. has the potential to be a starting left tackle in the NFL for many years to come. What I really love about Johnson Jr.’s game is his ability to recover after initially getting beat on the edge. He has a rare combination of size and athleticism.
12. Houston Texans via Cleveland Browns - Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech - After taking their quarterback in the second overall pick, the Texans get to go best player available with their second top 12 selection thanks to the Cleveland Browns. Wilson has top ten value, so getting him here would be a big positive for the struggling Texans’ franchise. His size is his biggest tool. He’s a staggering 6-foot-6 and weighs 275 pounds. He’s extremely long as well. We won’t know until the combine but he may even have the longest arm span in the entire draft, and that’s not just of edge rushers. He’s simply physically dominant. From his size to his strength and his speed, there’s little opposing offensive lineman can do. He also is extremely versatile across a defensive front. Due to his size and athleticism he can be effective in both standing up and with a hand in the ground.
13. New York Jets - Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia - The New York Jets are another intriguing destination for a free agent quarterback. They have an elite defense and a handful of young offensive weapons. With that being said, grabbing a running mate for Mekhi Becton makes a lot of sense here. Jones is built like an NFL offensive tackle. He has the size at 6-foot-5 and carries his 315 pounds well. His movement skills are already good, which offers promise that he one day can be a cornerstone of this Jets’ offensive line. He has the lateral agility to play at the next level as well. Playing tackle for Georgia in the SEC is one of the closest things to the NFL as you can get without actually playing in the NFL. Jones has proven he can hold his own there.
14. New England Patriots - Jordan Addison, WR, USC - The Patriots need to get Mac Jones some weapons. There is no way around it. Jakobi Meyers as his top option simply isn’t going to work. With that being said, they have the chance to get what may be the WR1 in this class. Addison is the best route runner in this class. He has an elite release package at the top of routes. Getting separation too just comes natural to Addison. The combination of footwork, shiftiness and football IQ goes into that. He was the main guy in Caleb Williams’ Heisman campaign and has proven that he can be a high volume catch guy. He’ll be ideal for Jones as a true number on receiver.
15. Green Bay Packers - Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame - The Packers finally found a quality receiver in Christian Watson last year and will now look to add an elite tight end prospect. Mayer is one of those hard to find tight ends that is both very efficient in both the pass and running game. He makes the contested catches and has great ball skills. At 6-foot-4 and 251 pounds, he’s a mismatch in the middle of the field. As previously mentioned, he’s very efficient in the blocking game as well. This adds an element to his game where it appears that he is blocking but can slip off the defender. His skill set will easily transfer to the NFL. No matter who is the quarterback in Green Bay moving forward, Mayer will be a welcomed addition.
16. Washington Commanders - Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia - Kelee Ringo to most is the top corner in this year’s draft. He proved that statement by giving Quentin Johnston fits all night long at the National Championship Game. Ringo is one of the most explosive athletes in all of college football, not just the cornerback position. He’s battle tested in the SEC and has the ability to move across the defense and defend every position from the tight end to the slot receiver. His coverage is “sticky” but also has the elite athleticism and size to make up for any mistake that he would rarely make. For a team lacking a true number one corner, Washington would be more than welcome to take him at the midpoint of the first round.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers - O'Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida - The Pittsburgh Steelers had a surprising season with rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett. They have what seems to be their guy under center, now it’s time to protect him. Torrence is best against the run. He’s a dominant run-blocker who has his way with interior defensive lineman. For a team such as the Steelers that relies heavily on the run, Torrence would be a massive addition. Torrence too is an anchor in the passing game. Either run blocking or pass protection, Torrence is physical at the point of the attack. A guard has to be special to go in the top 20 of the NFL draft and Torrence is just that.
18. Detroit Lions - Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon - The Lions went offense with their first of two first round selections and they’ll look to address their very poor defense with the second selection. The weakest part of their defense is undoubtedly their secondary. Gonzalez’ analysis is simple. He has the length, athleticism and instincts to be a good NFL corner. I like his size beyond his 6-foot-2 height. He’s 200 pounds and hard to be bullied by opposing receivers. The Lions have a lot of work to better their defense, but grabbing Gonzalez would be a good start.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina - On paper the Buccaneers’ secondary doesn’t look all that bad. However, when you get the likes of the Saints, Falcons and Panthers twice a year, you won’t look all that bad on paper. When it comes to strictly playing the position, Smith is arguably the best corner in the draft. Porter Jr. Gonzalez and Ringo have the size and length that Smith lacks, putting them ahead of him in this class. Either way, Smith is no joke. His footwork is already that of an NFL level corner. His hips too are fluid and his movement matches the opposing receiver. The game also comes naturally to Smith. His instincts and ball skills are unmatched in this draft as well. They too are already elite. He comes with great physicality and competitive toughness. He's not going to lose too many hand fights to opposing receivers.
20. Seattle Seahawks - Siaki Ika, DL, Baylor - The Seahawks have a chance to use this draft to really set up their defensive line for many years to come. I already have them taking Myles Murphy fifth overall and now snagging the second best interior defensive lineman in the draft with their second of two first round picks. Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks run a base 3-4 defense and therefore need a prominent nose tackle to make things work on the inside. That’s where Ika comes into play. At 6-foot-4 and 358 pounds, he already occupies a lot of space in the middle of the line. With that size comes raw strength that helps him hold his ground at the point of attack. On top of that he has great athleticism for someone of his size. Adding someone like Ika to occupy the middle will not only help the outside edge rushers, but help keep the linebackers “clean.”
21. Los Angeles Chargers - Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma - The Chargers need offensive line help, there’s no getting around that. With Matt Feiler established at left tackle, the Chargers have a glaring hole at right tackle. That’s where Anton Harrison comes into the picture. Harrison is best when it comes to pass protection. Luckily that’s what the Chargers do the most. In the 2022 season, the Chargers threw the ball 41.9 attempts-per-game, second most in the league. Harrison has the ideal build of an NFL offensive tackle. He’s 6-foot-5 and 309 pounds. That frame comes with great footwork and movement skills. I do preach a lot about arm length when it comes to offensive tackle and Harrison is long in the arms. This seems like an ideal fit.
22. Baltimore Ravens - Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas - Bijan Robinson is a can’t miss running back prospect. He checks every single box. At 6 foot and 220 pounds he has the modern day ideal build for an NFL running back. He possesses sub 4.5 40-yard speed on top of that frame. The 4.5 40 times doesn’t tell the whole story about his speed as well. He’s both explosive and elusive. Once he sees a hole he’s through it in the blink of an eye. Robinson is also nearly as good in the passing game as he is in the running game. He has great hands for a running back and is also a very good blocker. He simply has all the tools in place to be an X-factor in the NFL. Through all of the NFL talent the Texas Longhorns have produced at the running back position, Robinson quietly finished his junior year as the fourth leading rusher in the program’s history. That says something. J.K. Dobbins is entering the final year of his contract and we can’t ignore that significant knee injury two years ago where he tore his ACL, LCL, meniscus and hamstring. He also had a surgery in 2022 on that same knee. Longevity is a concern for Dobbins and we can’t forget that Lamar Jackson still is without a contact. For a team where running is as important as it is such as the Ravens, adding Robinson would be scary for the rest of the league.
23. Minnesota Vikings - Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida - I believe as the draft process develops, Richardson will be long gone by 23 but at this point, this is suitable for him. Going off his game play alone, Richardson would be a third-or-fourth round selection at best. But at 6-foot-4 and 232 pounds with a literal cannon attached to his shoulder, he’s a first round prospect. Richardson has rare arm strength. He can throw the football a literal mile. He’s also the definition of a dual-threat quarterback. He’s fantastic with the ball tucked and with room to run. You can’t deny these physical traits. Now, he is far from NFL ready. His throwing mechanics need a major adjustment and with that would come help with his accuracy issues. In the right situation, Richardson could become something special. Kirk Cousins has one year left on his contract in Minnesota and after the 2023 season he will be 35 years-old. The Vikings need to start looking towards the future and that future may include Richardson.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars - Brian Branch, S, Alabama - With Calvin Ridley set to join the team next year and the emergence of names such as Christian Kirk and Zay Jones, I don’t think the Jaguars are pressing to take a receiver here. Instead they opt to bolster their defense. Branch’s football IQ is through the roof. The game comes naturally to him. He can track the ball and always seems to be in the right spot at the right time. He’s very versatile on the defensive side of the ball and can fit into multiple schemes. He does struggle in man coverage but is a great zone defender. He’s excellent against the run as well as he is a very high-level run defender. The Jaguars allowed the fifth most passing yards to opposing teams in 2022. They need help in the secondary for sure.
25. New York Giants - Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State - The Giants are in desperate need of receiving help. With the two top dogs off the board, they get their choice of the second tier. That second tier is solely occupied by Smith-Njigba however. Smith-Njiba was once touted as the best receiver in this class before the rise of Johnson and Addison. He still is a very gifted route runner. He uses great body control to excel in the route running game. Breaking at the top of his routes and using his body and hips to throw off defenders is his strong suit. He too has excellent hands and ball skills. He played just three games last year due to a hamstring injury. However he caught 95 balls for 1,606 yards in 2021. He has the ability and potential to be a high volume guy. A great route runner who can get open anywhere on the field will go a long way for the Giants and Daniel Jones.
26. Dallas Cowboys - Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois - The Cowboys need a running mate for Trevon Diggs. DaRon Bland has had a good rookie season but beyond him, the depth is very limited. Although limited a bit athletically and in the length category, Witherspoon makes up for that elsewhere. He is excellent in man coverage, which is hard to find right out of college. He comes with tremendous ball skills as well. He takes the proper routes to the football at all times. Witherspoon too is a sure tackler. You won’t see him missing too many tackles. He excelled in college in special teams as well, always seeming to show up on every play. The way he carries himself too is impressive. He’s a guy players want to be around for sure.
27. Cincinnati Bengals - Andrew Vorhees, OG, USC - This Bengals line has come a long way over their last two seasons but still is very lack-luster. Burrow is still getting pressured constantly. Although Burrow is great in eluding pressure and getting the ball out quickly, he was sacked 44 times this year, including three times last week against the Ravens. The Bengals also averaged just 3.8 rushing yards-per-attempt last year. Yes, part of that has to do with Joe Mixon missing time, but he still played 14 games. Grabbing the best available offensive lineman at this point could be key for the Bengals. Although listed at guard, Vorhees has the versatility to move across the offensive line at 6-foot-6, 320 pounds and a great wingspan. He’s a strong anchor in pass protection, the biggest need for Burrow and the Bengals. He comes with great power at the point of attack and a great blocking radius and gravitational pull. Built as he needs to be, he can be a rock in the middle of this struggling Bengals’ line for years to come.
28. Denver Broncos via San Francisco 49ers - Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson - Trenton Simpson is simply a defensive coordinator's dream. He’s a swiss-army type of linebacker that does everything at a high level. He can move around in multiple sets and be just fine. He can get to the quarterback, stop the run and even drop back in coverage. The way he can play the pass is what sets him apart. At 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, Simpson has great range in both coverage and pursuit. His pass coverage abilities are simply rare for a player of his structure. He’s just as good against the run as he is against the pass. He has sideline-to-sideline speed. He finds himself in the open holes and doesn’t miss tackles.
29. Buffalo Bills - Antonio Johnson, S, Texas A&M - Jordan Poyer is a free agent, leaving a glaring need for the Bills if they choose to not re-sign the 31 year-old veteran. Unlike Branch, Johnson is built like a linebacker, with the athleticism and ball skills of a safety. He’s 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds. His size offers a boat-load of versatility. He processes the game at a high level already. With sideline-to-sideline speed and the abilities to track the football, he can be moved all over the defense and be effective. He also is a sure tackler, again, you won’t see him missing many tackles. With a team investing so much money into their quarterback, financial versatility is key. Letting Poyer walk in favor of Johnson could be the move for the Bills.
30. Kansas City Chiefs - Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia - The rich keep getting richer. The Chiefs seem to be a team in the back end of the draft that gets the best player available with great talent falling to them as other teams opt for team needs. Smith of course played his college ball at the highest level in the SEC at Georgia. He has an enticing blend of size and athleticism at 6-foot-3, 235 pounds. When it comes to physicality, that is where Smith shines. There are few players in all of college football more physical than Smith. As an edge rusher, he of course can get to the quarterback but doesn’t have to be taken off the field for run plays as he is just as effective against the pass as he is the run.
31. Philadelphia Eagles - Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama - What a draft it is for runningbacks. It’s rare to see two go in the first round but here we are. As Miles Sanders is a free agent with a slew of injuries in his first few years in the NFL, the Eagles may let him walk. Let’s also not forget that the team is going to have to pay Hurts and fresh off a MVP caliber season, he’s going to warrant a large contract. Financial versatility will be key and replacing Sanders with Gibbs makes a lot of sense. Gibbs may not be a three-down-back at the next level but has the skills to be very impactful when he is on the field. He’s very explosive with the ball in his hands and finds his way through holes. He’s great as a receiver as well, offering an outlet that the slew of Eagles’ runningbacks currently offer. He’s a top tier athlete that too is very elusive with the ball in his hands.