All the loyal reader
s of the Big Red Sports Machine are probably shaking their head s right now, saying, “GK, you’ve always told us to avoid the pre-free agency mock draft. I mean, you’ve left us voice messages saying it’s fictionalized, masturbatory garbage, designed only for click bait purposes, and that we’re lesser people for falling for it. Is it time for you to start putting mocks out now?” The answer, loyal reader, is yes. It’s time. America needs all the mock drafts it can get. We need to take our minds off of crippling inflation, soaring gas prices, and World War III, and oh yeah, that pandemic thing. I’m sure all that stuff will work itself out.
However, your point is well taken, and you should take this (and every other mock right now) with a HUGE grain of salt. There are some major pieces still floating around (Deshaun Watson, Amari Cooper, etc.) which will heavily impact the draft. But for now, let’s ignore the hellscape of our world and dive into this mock. We use the NFL Mock Draft Database for our mock draft needs.
This looks like a solid Top 8 for me, with each team getting need and value. With the Jags placing the franchise tag on Cam Robinson (again), that’s a clear signal they’re going defense, and Hutchinson gets the nod over Thibodeaux, based on collegiate production and scheme. At Michigan, he played in a pro-style defense. He is ready to come in and be an instant impact player. The Jags won’t screw up this pick, but will probably screw up his development, which is a very Jag thing to do (looking at you, Trevor).
Book this: Malik Willis will be a Top 10 pick. The question is where. His ceiling starts at 2, and goes no lower than 9. If (read: when) Deshaun Watson gets traded, he’s for sure in play at 3. If not, Carolina has to take him. After the Sam Darnold experience, Matt Rhule needs a QB1 to keep his job.
Giants would love it if Ekwonu is there at 4. Both of their picks should address the line. If you see a mock that has them drafting a receiver or quarterback, stop reading immediately. Daboll and co. are going to build this team the right way, and that starts with the line and outward.
Atlanta taking Wilson at 8 makes too much sense. Anyone want to bet on it?
If Seattle misses out on Malik Wilson, look for them to re-start the Legion of Boom with the best corner in the draft. The Jets are in a great spot with two picks in the Top 10. They could go OL at 4, but there’s good depth at OL, so that allows them to grab Hamilton at 4 and address the line at 10. Washington’s a spot where we could see another qb come off the board, but with Carson Wentz coming back to the NFC East, Washington can address other needs. Philly gets two absolute maulers. Linderbaum is getting devalued because he plays center, but he’s the best offensive lineman in the draft.
The back end of the first round is where we can see some other qbs coming off the board. Corral to New Orleans makes a ton of sense, and I think Pittsburgh is locked in on Pickett and his freakishly small hands. Devin Lloyd, Nakobe Dean, and George Karlaftis are all Top 15 talent, but the OL depth is going to push these guys down.
Whoever draft Jameson Williams is going to get an absolute stud. He would’ve been the top WR taken if he didn’t tear his ACL in the National Championship Game (another reason turf sucks) but he should bounce back to form. It’s worth the risk for the Bills, and when paired with Diggs will give the Bills a one-two combo that harkens back to the Reed/Lofton era.
With Green Bay resigning Karen Rodgers, this pick has to be a receiver. Likewise, the Bengals have to go offensive line, and protect Joe Burrow. Jared Goff is clearly not the long term (or short term) answer in Detroit, so they would be wise to grab Ridder here.