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  • Writer's pictureFred Wheeler

NFL Mock Draft 3.0 - Post Free Agency

With the first wave of NFL free agency over and the second not scheduled to hit until after June 2nd, we now have some clarity with teams and who they might be looking to draft.

The QB carousel has slowed (as if it ever stops) and free agents Kirk Cousins and Russell Wilson have found new homes, Baker Mayfield is staying put, and Chicago and Pittsburgh have both sent their one-time futures packing.

Kansas City kept their man in the middle Chris Jones with a big-time contract, the Bears traded for Keenan Allen to catch passes from whoever they draft in April, and we're still hearing Justin Jefferson rumors, so who knows what happens with that mess.

Pro Days at colleges are underway so anyone who didn't run, jump, or lift at the combine will be doing so in a familiar environment under the watchful eyes of NFL scouts and GMs. Some will boost their stock, some will send those scouts back to the film room to recheck game tape, and some won't even workout, looking at you, Marvin.

If you haven't seen the first two mock drafts, you can find them on

Chicago Bears

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Keenan Allen - WR - trade from LAC

Jayden Daniels - QB - Louisiana State - With Justin Fields traded for a bag of used pylons and some expired Gatorade drink mix, the Bears are committed to drafting a quarterback (unless they're gonna roll with Tyson Bagent) and they're doing their best to set the new guy up for success by trading for Allen and signing D'Andre Swift. I'm not a fan of Caleb Williams and that doesn't change here.

Washington Commanders

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Tyler Biadasz - C - free agent

Drake Maye - QB - North Carolina - OK, so Sam Howell didn't work out in DC, maybe the guy who followed him at North Carolina will work? I like Maye, I think he's undervalued but physically he's a prototype QB- Tall, solid build, strong arm, can scramble if needed, and a strong arm. The only thing that gives me pause is that Maye is under my 36-games-started threshold.

New England Patriots

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Mike Owenu - RT - free agent

Caleb Williams - QB - Southern Cal - Much like Chicago and their trading of Fields, the Patriots trading of Mac Jones practically guarantees that they'll be drafting a QB in the First Round. Williams is getting drafted in the First Round, high in the First Round, whether I like him or not, and the Patriots are desperate enough to do just that.

Arizona Cardinals

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Jonah Williams - RT - free agent

Marvin Harrison Jr. - WR - Ohio State - There's not many mock drafts out there that don't MHJ heading to the desert to play with the Cardinals and looking at his tape it's easy to see why. He wins at every level of the passing game and rarely drops a catchable ball. He's a willing and able blocker in the run game and by all accounts he's a good teammate. What more can you ask for?

Los Angeles Chargers

Biggest signing/trade/retention - creating enough cap room to retain EDGEs Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack

Malik Nabors - WR - Louisiana State - It doesn't take a genius to see that the Chargers are likely to take a receiver here after trading Keenan Allen and releasing Mike Williams. Pairing Nabors with last year's first pick Quinton Johnston potentially gives you a couple of dynamic playmakers who can stretch the field and worry defenses.

New York Giants

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Brian Burns - EDGE - trade from CAR

Rome Odunze - WR - Washington - The Giants get the last of the three top receivers and while history tells us at least one of these guys will be a bust, I wouldn't want to bet against any of them. His route running and run after the catch ability jump off the screen at you but his ability to get deep and win jump balls are what will make him a highlight regular.

Tennessee Titans

Biggest signing/trade/retention - L'Jarius Sneed - CB - trade from KC

Joe Alt - OT - Notre Dame - With the Titans signing Calvin Ridley from Jacksonville and releasing Andre Dillard it makes almost no sense to stick with Brock Bowers. Now offensive line becomes a priority. Alt can be a day 1 starter at left tackle thanks to his lateral agility and his incredible size and athleticism, remember, he showed up to South Bend as a tight end.

Atlanta Falcons

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Kirk Cousins - QB - free agent

Dallas Turner - EDGE - Alabama - This could just as easily be any of the top EDGE rushers in this draft but for me, right now, I'm taking Turner. His blistering 40 at the combine was impressive for someone his size and he shared the to 10 yard split time with Chop Robinson (1.54) a time that is better than 2023 NFL DROY Will Anderson (1.56). He'll need to get better at setting the edge and getting off blocks, but as a pass rusher, he might be the best in this class.

Chicago Bears

Jared Verse - EDGE - Florida State - With their QB of the future on board and some veteran weapons to help him succeed, the Bears turn their attention to their defense. Finding a bookend for Montez Sweat to put pressure on opposing offenses should be a priority, Verse fills that role.

New York Jets

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Mike Williams - WR - free agent

Olu Fashanu - OT - Penn State - Despite the Jets signing free agent Tyron Smith, I feel that adding another lineman would be the best course of action for two reasons - 1) Smith is on a one-year deal and is going to be 34 at the end of next season, not exactly a long-term fix, and 2) given the amount of injuries and time lost from them over the last two years, the Jets would be well advised to get some depth along their line. Trading down wouldn't be terrible, maybe allowing them to draft a player with positional flexibility like Troy Fautanu from Washington.

Minnesota Vikings

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Jonathan Greenard - DE - free agent

J.J. McCarthy - QB - Michigan - Is this where the Vikes get their QB of the future or was the trade for the Texan's pick at #23 an effort to load up and make a run at the Commanders or Patriots' pick? In either case, the Vikings are doing their due diligence with McCarthy as they're rumored to have four scouts at his pro day March 22 as well as having a private workout scheduled for the week after.

Denver Broncos

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Patrick Surtain II - CB - exercised 5th yr option

Brock Bowers - TE - Georgia - This pick was complicated. The Broncos feel like they're willing to overdraft a QB but with McCarthy not available no QB remaining is worth this selection. I also considered taking EDGE Laiatu Latu or DT Byron Murphy II, both of whom I think will fit in Denver's 3-4 alignment. In the end Bowers gives another weapon to either Jarrett Stidham or whoever the Broncos draft and since Denver won't be very good next season in any case it works out.

Las Vegas Raiders

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Christian Wilkins - DT - free agent

Taliese Fuaga - OL - Oregon State - With the signing of Wilkins and the best QBs and receivers already off the board, shifting focus to the offensive line is the play here. In fact, it might be the play with the Raiders' first few picks, as looking at their depth chart they only have a total of nine OL rostered as of 3/21. Fuaga gives them positional flexibility and I really like his aggressiveness even if it can cause errors at times.

New Orleans Saints

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Chase Young - DE - free agent

Troy Fautanu - OL - Washington - With OT Ryan Ramczyk's future still in doubt, there are two paths forward for the Saints. The first is hoping Ramczyk's knee is healthy enough that it will allow him to play a majority of next season (and from this it doesn't look like it is) with appropriate load management and draft either DT Johnny Newton or Byron Murphy II. The second, the path I chose, is to presume that Ramczyk's career is over, at least in New Orleans, and prepare for the worst. This could arguably be OTs J.C. Latham or Amarius Mims as well, I like Fautanu's versatility though.

Indianapolis Colts

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Michael Pittman Jr. - WR - re-signed

Quinyon Mitchell - CB - Toledo - With Pittman resigned and the top receivers out of play the Colts will turn their attention to upgrading their secondary. With their choice of corners the Colts can draft whoever they like best. Me? I like Mitchell best, he technical approach to the game means he's not going to be outworked off the field, and his showing at the Combine showed he can keep up with most anyone on the field.

Seattle Seahawks

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Leonard Williams - DT - re-signed

Darius Robinson - DL - Missouri - After a breakout performance at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Robinson had a lot of push as a possible late first-round pick. As we've progressed through the draft process, Robinson has consistently been linked to the Seahawks as a possible selection. Personally, while I'd love to see D-Rob go this high, I feel that either UCLA EDGE Laiatu Latu or Texas NT T'Vondre Sweat might be a better fit in the Seattle 3-4 alignment.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Erik Armstead - DE - free agent

T'Vondre Sweat - NT - Texas - Adding Sweat to play alongside of Armstead would put a lot of pressure on opposing offensive lines in both the run and pass game. In the pass game Sweat has the quickness to get off the ball and push the pocket into the QB's face and in the run game he's capable of taking on double teams to allow the linebackers to make plays. This is a pick that the Jags could easily trade down and get Sweat in the bottom of the first/top of the second round.

Edit - After a DWI arrest in Austin earlier this month, Sweat's draft stock has taken a hit. ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. has thoughts on this.

Cincinnati Bengals

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Trent Brown - OT - free agent

Byron Murphy II - DT - Texas - If this wasn't a team that's in it's championship window I would be more inclined to take an offensive tackle here to build depth and protect Joe Burrow. As it is, they're going to do everything they can to add talent to the squad in an effort to get back to the Super Bowl. Murphy gives them a pocket pusher presence from the tackle spot though he may need to be replaced on obvious run downs. Chop Robinson might be an option as well with 2023 pick Myles Murphy failing to impress in year 1.

Los Angeles Rams

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Jimmy Garoppolo - QB - free agent

Chop Robinson - EDGE - Penn State - You might think that with the retirement of Aaron Donald, the Rams would try to replace him with their first pick, but trying to replace any all-time great is an exercise in futility. Instead take a position you need to solidify or just the best player available. Robinson adds some explosiveness to the Rams pass rush and while he's not the greatest run defender, his motor never quits and he plays to the whistle.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Russell Wilson - QB - free agent

Amarius Mims - OT - Georgia - While corner is listed as a bigger need for the Steelers, if the offense doesn't get better, it's another 9-8/10-7 season on tap in Steel City. Mims' biggest knock is that he hasn't gotten a ton of experience playing tackle while at the college level and as such his pass protection ability weighs heavily on his athleticism and strength and less on technique. Given time, coaching, and reps, he could be a perennial Pro-Bowl caliber tackle.

Miami Dolphins

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Jordyn Brooks - LB - free agent

Laiatu Latu - EDGE - Washington - I settled on Latu for the Dolphins after the debacle of them losing both Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips at different points last season. Yes, the 'Phins added Melvin Ingram and Shaq Barrett as backups, but you can never have enough pass rush. This could also be offensive line depth like Graham Barton.

Philadelphia Eagles

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Saquon Barkley - RB - free agent

Terrion Arnold - CB - Alabama - This is almost a no-brainer, but with both of the Eagles starting corners on the wrong side of 30, they'll be looking to get younger. Arnold is a solid fit here with him being a smart player and a physical presence in the run game.

Minnesota Vikings

Nate Wiggins - CB - Clemson - With Wiggins' frame and intelligence, the Vikings shoring up their secondary looks like a good bet. Of course, come draft day you never know what could happen so an EDGE rusher could still be on the table as well and this might yet become part of a trade for the Vikings to move up.

Dallas Cowboys

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Eric Kendricks - ILB - free agent

J.C. Latham - OT - Alabama - For a team that tied with the best record in the NFC last season the 'Boys sure look like they could be on the opposite side of that this coming season. Free agency shredded their O-line and the cap strapped team couldn't fill many holes. This pick could just as easily be a DB or an EDGE.

Green Bay Packers

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Xavier McKinney - SS - free agent

Kingsley Suamataia - OT - Brigham Young - With David Bakhtiari released and Jon Runyan leaving via free agency, the offensive line as a whole is an area of concern. Suamataia is my pick to step in and take over the LT position though any offensive lineman should be under consideration, a high second round pick might allow them to come right back and get someone like Oregon's Jackson Powers-Johnson.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Lavonte David - ILB - re-signed

Graham Barton - IOL - Duke - Since the Bucs' biggest need (EDGE) doesn't offer any value at this point in the draft and while corner is a need and there are plenty of them available, I'm going with Graham Barton. I love how he always seems to be playing downhill and he brings versatility to the Bucs' line being able to play all five positions in a pinch.

Arizona Cardinals

Kool-Aid McKinstry - CB - Alabama - With Marvin Harrison Jr in the fold, the possibility exists (and I feel it's a very real one) that they could double up on receivers and take a swing on Xavier Worthy or Brian Thomas here. Instead I'm going with McKinstry and add an excellent corner to the Birds' defense. Johnny Newton from Illinois could be an option here as well, though it looks like he would be available with the Cardinals' second round pick (#35 overall).

Buffalo Bills

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Curtis Samuel - WR - free agent

Ennis Rakestraw - CB - Missouri - It feels like everyone is pivoting to select a receiver for the Bills with the trade of Stefon Diggs to Houston. While that's certainly valid, I feel the receiver position will be addressed in the second or fourth rounds. I'm going with a replacement for the (soon-to-be) released Tre'Davious White. With his competitive attitude and football IQ, I feel that Bills Mafia will make him feel right at home.

Detroit Lions

Biggest signing/trade/retention - D.J. Reader - DT - free agent

Cooper DeJean - CB - Iowa - With no value here for interior offensive linemen, the Lions pivot, and I'm betting they pivot right towards Iowa City. Given the success of 2023 draftees Sam LaPorta and Jack Campbell would it be that crazy to see the Lions go back to that particular well?

Baltimore Ravens

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Derrick Henry - RB - free agent

Xavier Legette - WR - South Carolina - Barring a trade, which makes absolute sense here, I think the Ravens go with a receiver. Having lost OBJ (or at least making no effort to re-sign him) and Rashod Bateman not performing to expectations, adding another receiver wouldn't be a terrible pick. Legette can help in the run game, is physical, and given some coaching might be quite good opposite Zay Flowers.

San Francisco 49ers

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Leonard Floyd - OLB - free agent

Tyler Guyton - OT - Oklahoma - This feels like a spot where the Niners could trade down and pick up a bit of draft capital for moves on Day Two. With the losses of Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw on the line this offseason and LB Dre Greenlaw tearing his Achilles at the Super Bowl, the first two levels of the defense need to be addressed. So does the O-line. With Trent Williams turning 36 before the season starts, I'm not sure he'll be around to collect on that age 40 season in 2027 so you may want to start looking for his heir apparent.

Kansas City Chiefs

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Marquise Brown - WR - Trade with ARI

Adonai Mitchell - WR - Texas - If one of the top corners was here, I'd have to think about them to replace the traded L'Jarius Sneed. Since none of the corners available here make me think twice we're going to give the Champs a wide receiver, a position many thought they'd be drafting even before Rashee Rice did his best Speed Racer imitation in Dallas earlier this month. Mitchell is less role-specific than former teammate Xavier Worthy, but the Chiefs have no problems picking smaller receivers.

Outside the first round:

Carolina Panthers - 2nd round 33rd pick

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Robert Hunt - OG - free agent

Ladd McConkey - WR - Georgia - I can see the Panthers trading down at this position, especially if Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix are still on the board, teams may want to jump up to snag them rather than wait to see if they continue to fall. In any case here, the other two positions of immediate need (EDGE and TE) don't offer a ton of value here and I feel like McConkey can move into the role Adam Thielan currently occupies in a year or two.

Cleveland Browns - 2nd Round 54th pick

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Za'Darius Smith - OLB - re-signed

Patrick Paul - OT - Houston - Given the slew of injuries the Browns dealt with on the offensive line in 2023, I have to think that taking another lineman is just good sense. Paul is experienced and has ideal size for the position but is a bit heavy-footed and less dominating as a blocker than you would expect given his size.

Houston Texans - 2nd Round 42nd pick

Biggest signing/trade/retention - Stefon Diggs - WR - trade with BUF

Jackson Powers-Johnson - IOL - Oregon - While Johnny Newton (DT-Illinois) might be the pick here if he's available, I don't think he will be. That leaves another team who experienced a rash of injuries picking for depth and getting someone who can play multiple positions. Powers-Johnson has experience at both guard spots as well as center and right tackle.

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