We’re three days into April which means we are three days closer to the NFL Draft. The NFL Combine is now a thing of the past and hopefully the draft order isn’t drastically changed anymore. This NFL offseason has been wild and it certainly has changed the course of the NFL Draft. So with that being said, let’s get into this NFL Mock Draft 2.0 part 1!
1. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-14): Aidan Hutchinson DE Michigan
With the moves Jacksonville has made in free agency this is inevitable. The Jaguars need someone who can go after the quarterback. Hutchinson will do exactly that. Jacksonville’s defense has tanked since their incredible 2017 season. Bringing in the tackling machine from Michigan will give this defense a boost it desperately needs.
2. Detroit Lions (3-13-1): Kayvon Thibodeaux DE Oregon
Just like the Jaguars, the Lions need someone who can go after the quarterback. With Aaron Rodgers and Kirk Cousins sticking around in the NFC North and Justin Fields entering his second year, the Lions need someone who can disrupt the passing game. There’s been a lot of noise about what kind of player Thibodeaux is. The answer is a beast. Dan Campbell loves guys who “eat kneecaps”. and that’s what Thibodeaux will do (not literally).
3. Houston Texans (4-13): Evan Neal OT Alabama
The top three stays the same but the order is different. The Texans need someone who can protect Davis Mills. Yes, now that the Deshaun Watson saga is over for the Texans, they can move on as a franchise and start building around second year quarterback Davis Mills. Evan Neal can basically play the offensive line. Neal is the top offensive lineman in this year’s draft and will prove it in Houston.
4. New York Jets (4-13): Travon Walker DE Georgia
Travon Walker jumps from 30 to 4 in this mock draft. Walker took advantage of the NFL Combine to improve his draft stock. His 40 time was 4.51 which is very impressive. In fact, Walker himself said that he was going to run around a 4.6 time. He also shined in the 3 cone drill with a time of 6.89 as well as posting a vertical jump of 35.5 inches. He turned the corner smoothly during the 3 cone drill showing off his pass rush. The Jets are getting a monster at four.
5. New York Giants (4-13): Ikem Ekwonu OT N.C. State
With Evan Neal off the board, the Giants have a no brainer at five. Ikem Ekwonu is the only offensive lineman in this year’s draft that can really challenge Evan Neal for being the best offensive lineman in this draft class. This is Daniel Jones’ last chance to prove that he can be a starting quarterback in the the NFL. Ekwonu will make life easier as Jones will have top notch protection.
6. Carolina Panthers (5-12): Malik Willis QB Liberty
The Panthers end the streak of lineman being selected in the draft. It’s no secret that the Panthers will be in limbo until they figure out who their future franchise quarterback will be. Malik Willis shined at the combine and once again at his pro day. He did not run the 40 yard dash, but instead showed off his arm strength. With his pro day and combine results, Willis is viewed by some as the best quarterback in this class. To be selected sixth overall, that itself should explain that he’s the best at his position.
7. New York Giants (4-13; from Chicago 6-11): Kyle Hamilton S Notre Dame
The Giants might walk away round one winners with this pick. Their secondary is improved, and they will get natural born leadership as well. Hamilton had a slow 40 yard dash time but made up for it in all other workouts in the combine. He jumped 38 inches in his vertical and a broad jump of 131 inches. The Giants are getting a freak athlete at seven.
8. Atlanta Falcons (7-10): Garrett Wilson WR Ohio State
This has been quite the offseason for the Atlanta Falcons. First, Calvin Ridley gets suspended for the entire season after being caught gambling on Falcons games. Then, they trade quarterback Matt Ryan and bring in Marcus Mariotta. The Falcons need a wide receiver badly. So it would make sense to go get arguably the best one in the draft. Wilson ran a 4.38 in the 40 yard dash showing off his speed. He had a 36 inch vertical as well. Wilson will be the top target from week one for Mariotta (or whoever will be the week one starter for Atlanta).
9. Seattle Seahawks (7-10; from Denver 7-10): Kenny Pickett QB Pittsburgh
Well here’s Seattle. Seattle traded Russell Wilson to the Broncos and now they need a quarterback. Yes, they technically have Drew Lock but Lock is not anywhere close to being a starting quarterback. Kenny Pickett is though! Pickett put Pitt on the football map and will bring winning culture back to Seattle after last year’s disappointing season. Just like Malik Willis, Pickett showed off his arm strength at the combine which impressed many teams that are in the market for a quarterback.
10. New York Jets (4-13; from Seattle 7-10): Trent McDuffie CB Washington
The Jets have so many needs. They addressed the offensive line earlier and now they address the secondary. Trent McDuffie isn’t the flashiest cornerback but he gets the job done. He’s fast which is something the Jets need in their secondary. McDuffie can play both man and zone and can cover all parts of the field. The Jets walk away as round one winners as well.
11. Washington Commanders (7-10): Drake London WR USC
Washington went out and got Carson Wentz so their quarterback dilemma is solved… for now. Yes Terry McLaurin is still on the team. But the Commanders need another wide receiver to go opposite of him. Insert Drake London. London can be a deep threat for Wentz and can take pressure off of McLaurin which will allow him to make plays. Carson Wentz could seriously have an embarrassment of riches at the receiver position this upcoming season.
12. Minnesota Vikings (8-9): Roger McCreary CB Auburn
The Vikings have spent the offseason improving their defense. That trend continues with bringing in Roger McCreary. Yes, the Vikings also brought back Patrick Peterson, but that’s only for one season. Peterson will not only be tasked with performing on the field, but he will also mentor McCreary as well. McCreary was a standout at Auburn, and shined at his pro day. The Vikings are potentially looking at a steal at 12.
13. Houston Texans (4-13; from Cleveland 8-9): Devin Lloyd LB Utah
The Texans are back on the clock and have one player on their mind. Devin Lloyd, the star linebacker from Utah. Lloyd impressed scouts at the combine and improved his draft stock. Houston’s linebacking core isn’t great. Adding Lloyd severely improves the linebacking position and gives Houston a chance to make third down stops.
14. Baltimore Ravens (8-9): Jordan Davis DT Georgia
Big Jordan Davis sent shockwaves around the NFL with his 40 yard dash time of 4.78 seconds. Someone who is 341 pounds should not be able to move like that. The AFC North is going to be a three way fight between the Browns, Ravens and Bengals next season. Baltimore needs someone to clog up the line of scrimmage and someone who can move. Davis can do both of those things. Opposing offenses will have their work cut out for them trying to contain Davis.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (9-8; from Miami 9-8): Derek Stingley Jr. CB LSU
Derek Stingley Jr. says that he’s just about at 100% recovered from a foot injury he sustained last season at LSU. Stingley started off strong at LSU then slowly became quiet on the field. But, that doesn’t mean he isn’t a top prospect. The Eagles need a cornerback who can shut down top receivers in the league. Stingley is more than capable of that. If he channels how he played his freshman year at LSU, Stingley has potential to be a shutdown corner in the league.
16. New Orleans Saints (9-8; from Indianapolis 9-8 through Philadelphia 9-8): Nakobe Dean LB Georgia
The Saints could use a linebacker. Nakobe Dean fits the mold of what kind of linebacker New Orleans needs. He can stretch the field and tackle just about anyone. The New Orleans defense needs leadership and Dean will provide that. His presence will be felt on the field immediately.
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-Matt Burnett (@mattthew_jordan on Twitter)