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  • Writer's pictureFred Wheeler

NFL Mock Draft Ver 3.0

Updated: Sep 26, 2023

Well, we’re through the first wave of free agency with some teams winning bigly (Washington FT, Browns, Patriots) and some, well, making bewildering moves (Las Vegas gutting their O-line). Deshaun Watson is back at the forefront of NFL news and his image is taking a real hit this time (though how much it cools interest in trading for him, who knows). Tampa has figured out their cap issues and brought back almost all of last year’s Super Bowl winning team. In any case, let’s start with pick number two, since Trevor Lawrence is going nowhere but Jacksonville (and maybe London?) for the foreseeable future. *Click on the pick's name and it'll take you to a video of their Pro Day (if they've had it) or to a breakdown of their skillset (if not).

New York Jets – With the signings of WR Corey Davis, DE Carl Lawson, and DT Sheldon Rankins, the Jets have addressed two of their most pressing needs entering the off-season (WR and EDGE). The signing of Rankins also adds needed depth for new HC Robert Salah’s change to a 4-3 front and I doubt that they’re done yet. For me, Davis is the question mark here, he’s underwhelmed since being drafted 5th overall in 2017 and while he had a career year in 2020 (65 REC/984 YDS/5 TD), those numbers don’t scream WR1 to me. With the trade between the Dolphins and 49ers, it’s pretty clear to me that any team wanting to get the QB they want will need to cut a deal with the Jets. *Sam Darnold was traded while this article was being edited.

Pick – Penei Sewell – OT – Oregon

Previous pick – DeVonta Smith – WR – Alabama

San Francisco 49ers - In the end, the 49ers were able to keep Trent Williams and solidify their LT spot for the next few years. In addition they added ex-Falcon center Alex Mack to boost their line. Then they made a big move up into the Draft’s top 5 in an effort to solidify their QB position for (hopefully) the next decade or so. The feeling is that they moved up to get Ohio State product Justin Fields and will trade Jimmy Garoppolo, but some reports are already out stating that they will keep both Jimmy G and a rookie.

Pick – Justin Fields – QB – Ohio State

Previous pick – (at 12) Jaylen Mayfield – OT - Michigan

Atlanta Falcons – The Falcons' free agency run so far can probably best be summed up by this GIF –

After the first week of free agency the Falcons have signed three players to a total of $7.89M in contracts. Yeah, settle in Dirty Bird fans, it’s gonna get rougher from here on out. Fortunately, Atlanta finds themselves in the rare (and enviable) position of picking in the Top 5 with several QBs to choose from at a time when their previous Franchise QB’s career is nearing its end. Whether they get the player they want at this pick, we don’t know.

Pick – Zach Wilson – QB - BYU

Previous pick – Justin Fields – QB – Ohio State

Cincinnati Bengals – In the past two drafts I’ve had the Bengals addressing their biggest weakness AND their biggest concern with this pick taking VA Tech OT Christian Darrisaw to protect last year’s #1 Overall pick Joe Burrow (who is currently rehabbing a torn ACL thanks to said problem). While they’ve addressed the issue in free agency, I can’t say that I’m sold on the long-term viability of a Reilly Reiff/Jonah Williams tackle combo. Look for the Bengals to draft multiple linemen in the later rounds.

Pick – Ja'Marr Chase – WR – LSU

Previous Pick – Darrisaw

Miami Dolphins – With free agency in bloom the Dolphins added a lot of depth players for camp but added their biggest piece two Sundays ago with WR Will Fuller moving over from the Texans to play opposite DeVante Parker. Giving 2nd year QB Tua Tagovialoa more weapons can’t be a bad thing, but Fuller still has a game left on his 2020 suspension for PEDs and has missed 27 games over his career due to injury/suspension. This isn’t the last WR Miami adds this off-season. The Dolphins then added more ammo to their draft future trading down with the 49ers and then back up to the #6 spot with the Eagles. This was a great move for Miami going forward giving them five first-round picks in the next three drafts.

Pick – Jaylen Waddle – WR – Alabama

Previous pick – (at 3) Penei Sewell – OT – Oregon

Detroit Lions – With so many holes on their roster, even before the Stafford trade and Kenny Golladay signing with the Giants, it’s hard to knock the Lions for not being aggressive in the free agent market, after all, they’d just be spackling over gaping holes. They did sign Jamal Williams from division rival Green Bay and between he and D’Andre Swift, there should be plenty of carries to keep them both happy in HC Dan Campbell’s run-heavy offense. The Miami/ San Francisco trade has possibly taken away their chance at getting a “Franchise” QB in this draft but they can still get a solid player.

Pick – Kyle Pitts – TE - Florida

Previous pick – Zach Wilson – QB - BYU

Carolina Panthers – Other than exploring a trade for Deshaun Watson and signing a few mid-tier free agents, the Panthers haven’t done a lot this off-season. Given the initial feeding frenzy and what’s left on the market, they might be playing it close to the vest and hoping a difference maker is cut before the draft or in June. They could also be saving it for next year or to extend contracts. I’ve gone back and forth with myself about which player the Panthers should be taking and for now it’s. . .

Pick – Patrick Surtain II – CB – Alabama

Previous pick – Surtain

Denver Broncos – After electing to exercise their option on Von Miller’s 6th year, the Broncos set out to give their secondary a makeover. After keeping Safety Justin Simmons in town with a 4 year, $61M contract and bringing in former Bears CB Kyle Fuller and Washington CB Ronald Darby, the Broncos did just that, and they did it well. Now if they can generate a consistent pass rush outside of Miller, they might be in business.

Pick – Micah Parsons – OLB – Penn State

Previous pick – Parsons

Dallas Cowboys – Well, looks like Dak Prescott got paid, a bit much for someone without an MVP or a Ring, but, not my money and besides, if you’re sold on a QB, you better pay him or someone else will. After backing up the truck for Dak, the Cowboys made precious few moves in free agency, with the biggest one (Keanu Neal 1 year, $5M) bringing Neal and DC Dan Quinn back together after Quinn recruited Neal to play his college ball at Florida. Another small thing affected this pick as well, the Cowboys declined to resign DE Aldon Smith (and LB Tarell Basham is no replacement either) meaning they need to add pass rush.

Pick – Kwity Paye – EDGE (DE) – Michigan

Previous Pick – Caleb Farley – CB – VA Tech

New York Giants – Sometimes you really can fix a problem by throwing money at it, after all, that’s what the Giants did with their gaping hole at receiver when they signed former Lions WR Kenny Golladay to a 4 year $72M contract. Adding a receiver who is only a year removed from a double digit TD season to the league’s second worst offense can’t possibly be bad, but they’ll need more to make the offense dangerous.

Pick – DaVonta Smith – WR – Alabama

Previous pick – Jalen Waddle – WR - Alabama

Philadelphia Eagles – Well, that was. . . unexpected. Who saw the Eagles trading down in the draft, let alone down six picks? The upside of this is the draft capital that they acquired from the Dolphins, getting a 4th round pick this year (#123) and a 1st rounder next year, in addition to the 12th overall pick. That pick next year, especially for a team that might again struggle to win games, makes it possible to trade up and snag a QB if Jalen Hurts fails to live up to expectations this year.

Pick – Caleb Farley – CB – VA Tech + NFL Profile

Previous pick – (at 6) Ja’Marr Chase – WR – LSU

Los Angeles Chargers – The Bolts went all-in on protecting Franchise QB Justin Herbert in free agency, signing G Matt Feiler away from Pittsburgh and re-signing C Corey Linsley to 3yr/$21M and 5yr/$62M deals respectively. There’s no reason to think that that will change at the draft, at least with their first pick where they’ll have a choice of anyone not named Penei Sewell. In this case, the choice is easy, after Rashawn Slater’s Pro Day he vaulted over Christian Darrisaw in my eyes and in most years would have made himself into a Top 10 pick. Plus, let’s not forget, this is the guy who shut down NFL DROY Chase Young in 2019.

Pick – Rashawn Slater – OT – Northwestern

Previous pick – Slater

Minnesota Vikings – For the Vikings, free agency was just what they needed to plug a leaky run defense (signing DT Dalvin Tomlinson to a 2year, $22M deal) and giving a young secondary a potential HOFer to learn under (CB Patrick Peterson 1year, $10M). Now that that’s been taken care of, it’s time to address the offensive line. I would expect the Vikes to use multiple picks on their line in this draft, but finding a replacement for Reilly Reiff has to take center stage in the first round. Fortunately, the way this draft is falling, they don’t have to reach for anyone and can simply take Christian Darrisaw.

Pick – Christian Darrisaw – OT – VA Tech + NFL Profile

Previous pick – Trevon Moerhig – S – TCU

New England Patriots – When free agency started the Pats had the third most money available to spend, and spend it they did, bringing in or resigning their own FAs, to the tune of twenty-two players and $137.5M in guaranteed money (as of this writing). Notable among them was the top tight end available, Hunter Henry, as well as LBs Matt Judon, and Kyle Van Noy, as well as WR Nelson Ahgolor. They also returned Cam Newton to start (or be a high quality back up?) despite the struggles of last season.

Pick – Trey Lance – QB – North Dakota St.

Previous pick – Mac Jones – QB – Alabama

Arizona Cardinals – With the signings of J.J. Watt, A.J. Green, and Malcom Butler as well as bringing back DE/OLB Marcus Golden to back up Watt and Chandler Jones, it’s hard not to see how the Cardinals are loading up for what they clearly see as a two or three year window to win it all. They lost Kenyon Drake to the Raiders in free agency leaving Chase Edmonds (850 yds Ru/Rec, and 5 TDs in 2020) as their top back. Not exactly awe-inspiring as a starter. They could look at adding a CB like JayCee Horn or a safety like Trevon Moerhig, but make that offense a nightmare and draft . . .

Pick – Travis Etienne – RB – Clemson

Previous pick – Etienne

Las Vegas Raiders – Adding help to a defensive line that was, hmmm, ?underwhelming? in 2020 was high on the Raiders list as free agency opened and they came out with a good haul. First up they were able to sign Yannick Ngakoue, perhaps the best pass rush threat available, as well as add Solomon Thomas from the 49ers. Both players had rough 2020 seasons with Ngakoue being traded twice and Thomas missing most of the season after tearing his ACL in week 2. Let’s continue that defensive rebuild by giving them a chess piece they can move around.

Pick – Jeramiah Owosu-Koramoa – OLB – Notre Dame

Previous Pick – Jalen Mayfield – OT – Michigan

Miami Dolphins – With a remade receiving corps, the Dolphins can look toward stopping other teams and a big part of that will be generating a pass rush that makes QBs nervous. The ‘Phins were able to reach the QB last year (T-10th with 41), but much of their pressure was generated by blitzes (4th highest rate in NFL) and not individual talent. Add a talented EDGE player and the success rate should go up, right? Ok then.

Pick – Azeez Ojulari – EDGE (OLB) – Georgia

Previous pick – Kyle Pitts – TE – Florida

Washington Football Team – What does a team do when they need a QB now? Sign Ryan Fitzpatrick to a one year deal (his 9th career stop in this case). It’s extremely likely they draft a QB in the first two rounds, depending, of course, on what transpires with teams and trading up. The WFT added more offensive help in the form of Curtis Samuel joining his Ohio State teammate Terry McLaurin in Washington as well as a few other less exciting parts. Fortunately for HC Ron Rivera there’s a QB available at this pick, at the draft, well, we’ll see.

Pick – Mac Jones – QB – Alabama

Previous pick – Trey Lance – QB – North Dakota State

Chicago Bears – How bad is it when you make your fans pine for the days of Jay Cutler? Pretty bad, it’s been a while since the Bears had a QB1 that didn’t make you cringe a little when you said their name, and that trend doesn’t look to end anytime soon with Nick Foles returning and Andy Dalton signing a one year deal worth (if all incentives are met) $13M. The Bears did manage to keep Allen Robinson II catching passes from whoever will be throwing them this fall, so that’s good and they also signed away RB Damien Williams from the Chiefs to bolster their running backs.

Pick – Alijah Vera-Tucker – IOL/OT – Southern Cal

Previous Pick – Tevin Jenkins – OT – Oklahoma State

Indianapolis Colts – It’s usually a good thing when your team manages to land a young QB who looks like he can be “the future” under center. It’s a little less so when that player was drafted #2 overall and has been outplayed by two separate backups. In any case, the Colts beat out the Bears in trading for Carson Wentz and have replaced now-retired Phillip Rivers as their signal caller. They’ve also brought back WR T.Y. Hilton and RB Marlon Mack to a team that gave AFC finalist Buffalo a run for their money.

Pick – Jalen Mayfield – OT – Michigan

Previous Pick – JayCee Horn – CB – South Carolina

Tennessee Titans – With the Titans’ anemic pass rush last year (3rd worst – 19 sacks), beefing up that area was a high priority coming into the off-season. The addition of Bud Dupree from Pittsburgh is a step in the right direction, but when things go that poorly for an entire season, adding one player is rarely enough. There’s enough other holes on the roster that you could see the Titans going a few different directions.

Pick – Kadarius Toney – WR – Florida

Previous pick – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah – LB – Notre Dame

New York Jets – Assuming, and it’s a big assumption, that the Jets don’t trade Sam Darnold (less likely by the minute) and also don’t trade down, they’ve already remade their offensive line in this draft, so let’s give them some more help on offense. They’ve added WR Corey Davis and RB Tevin Coleman to the offense, but neither player is a “splash” game-changer (IMHO of course) so adding an offensive player here is a definite possibility.

Pick – Rashod Bateman – WR – Minnesota

Previous pick – Gregory Rousseau – EDGE (DE) – Miami (FL)

Pittsburgh Steelers – In a surprising turn of events the Steelers held onto WR JuJu Smith-Schuster for at least a couple more years, giving Ben Roethlisberger his top receiver back. Unfortunately, they also lost Bud Dupree to Tennessee and while RB James Conner and OT Alejandro Villanueva haven’t signed elsewhere, they also haven’t signed with the Steelers. Conner, in particular, would concern me as a Steelers fan, mostly because if the Steelers had any faith in backup Benny Snell they would have given him more carries, especially after Week 1 against NYG where he rushed for 113 yards on 19 carries (He got 3 carries in week 2).

Pick – Najee Harris – RB – Alabama

Previous pick – Harris

Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jags have spent on a number of players in free agency in an attempt to build some sort of depth for a team that was, well, pretty bad last year after their Week 1 win over the Colts. Drafting Trevor Lawrence will be huge as the QB position is now settled for the near future, this pick sets the tone for the future though. The Jags could definitely use another RB, but the talent available here doesn’t warrant that pick. WR looks settled with Marvin Jones Jr. under contract as well as DJ Chark and Laviska Shenault.

Pick – Gregory Rousseau – EDGE (DE) – Miami (FL)

Previous pick – Samuel Cosmi – OT - Texas

Cleveland Browns – The most successful Browns season since their return to the NFL still ended in a loss so their job this off-season was simple, figure out what they needed to finish with a win. While a pass rusher and a playmaker at linebacker are still high on their list, a chance to remake the secondary was too much to resist. Enter S John Johnson III and CB Troy Hill from the Rams to add to Denzel Ward and Ronnie Harrison Jr, meaning that the Browns may have the best complete secondary in the League. Since the premiere EDGE players are gone for the most part, I’m giving the Browns a playmaking linebacker.

Pick – Zaven Collins – LB – Tulsa

Previous pick – Collins

Baltimore Ravens – After losing two of their best pass rushers, Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue, to the Patriots and Raiders respectively, the Ravens knew what they needed and came away with. . . WR Sammy Watkins and G Kevin Zeitler? OK, Zeitler is a solid replacement for Marshal Yanda and Watkins can, at times, be a dynamic player, but do either strike you as pushing the Ravens higher? Yeah, me either. At this stage of the draft there’s only one remaining WR that grades out as a 1st rounder; I wonder if Lamar Jackson will like throwing to him?

Pick – Terrence Marshall Jr. – WR – LSU

Previous pick – Rashod Bateman – WR – Minnesota

New Orleans Saints - Beginning the off-season severely handicapped by the lowered salary cap, the Saints had to release several players just to be salary cap compliant. They were able to return QB/offensive player Taysom Hill, QB Jameis Winston, and S Marcus Williams is wearing the Franchise Tag for now. Losing your Franchise’s best QB ever (apologies to Archie Manning) and not losing a beat is damn near impossible, you need that ready replacement (which they do, maybe) and the rest of the team needs to step up, everyone, offense AND defense. You also need to give other roster spots an injection of talent, since that’s not happening in free agency, the 2021 draft is crucial for the Saints.

Pick – Jaycee Horn – CB – South Carolina

Previous pick – Terrence Marshall Jr. – WR – LSU

Green Bay Packers – Going into free agency it seemed all-but-certain that RB Aaron Jones would be running right out of Green Bay to a big money contract elsewhere. Well, he did indeed get a big money contract (4 years, $48M, $13M guaranteed) but he did it without having to move anywhere. Keeping the Aarons together for another run at a championship was a real coup for the Pack. Now we turn to the draft and I’m sticking with my prediction from version 2.0.

Pick – Nick Bolton – LB – Missouri

Previous pick – Bolton

Buffalo Bills – Coming within a game of the Super Bowl probably feels like a letdown for a lot of teams, but for a Bills squad that won its first playoff game since I was a college freshman? It probably felt like a relief. The next step is finishing the season on top of the league (which hasn’t happened since 1965- in the AFL). They kept most of their own free agents, added some depth and even replaced WR John Brown with Emmanuel Sanders after he was cut from the Saints. Most positions of need for the Bills aren’t offering a ton of value here (CB, WR, EDGE) so look for the Bills to perhaps trade up into the high teens if it looks like someone is really falling.

Pick – Greg Newsome II – CB – Northwestern

Previous pick – Azeez Ojulari – EDGE (LB) – Georgia

Kansas City Chiefs – Almost as surprising as the Chiefs losing in the Super Bowl in the manner that they did was the cutting of starting offensive lineman Eric Fisher and Mitchell Scwartz. Granted, both were injured for that game (and Schwartz missed most of the season with a back injury). What the Chiefs did manage was signing free agents G Joe Thuney (Patriots) and C Austin Blythe (Rams) as well as add G Kyle Long after his un-retirement. O-line is always a little science, and a little voodoo, the most talented lines aren’t always the best, but the Chiefs are doing alright here if they can add a couple tackles.

Pick – Tevin Jenkins – OT – Oklahoma State

Previous pick – Dillon Radunz – OT – North Dakota State

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Bringing back virtually every player of note on your Super Bowl winning team is virtually unheard of in the free agency era, but that’s just what the Bucs managed to do, many on one or two-year deals, but still, pretty impressive. Where to go in the draft with all this talent? They could use help at few positions especially since they have a number of players who are aging and on short-term deals. With DL Ndamukong Suh fitting both of those statements (34, one-year deal) I’m going with a player for them to groom and, eventually, start.

Pick – Levi Onwuzurike – IDL – Washington

Previous pick – Joe Tryon – EDGE (LB) – Washington

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