Go big or go home

Predictions, preview and best-case scenarios without trades for the first round of the NFL draft

    Each spring, the National Football League (NFL) hosts a seven-round draft that consists of a varying number of total picks. The number will fluctuate depending on the number of forfeited picks due to a violation of league policy and compensatory picks given to teams who may have lost star power in free agency. This year, there will be 259 total draft picks and according to Sports Illustrated, the Miami Dolphins will be forfeiting their first-round draft pick due to violation of the league’s anti-tampering policy. With the remaining 31 first-round draft picks, there seems to be an added sense of unknowingness looming in the air. So, let us jump right into this first-round mock-up. 


1) Carolina Panthers (from Chicago)


Prediction: Bryce Young, Quarterback, Alabama 

Best Case: Bryce Young, Quarterback, Alabama 

Betting Favorite:  Bryce Young, Quarterback, Alabama 


    The Panthers started their hectic off-season by hiring former Colts head coach Frank Reich to be their new head coach on Jan. 26. Reich replaces current Nebraska University head coach Matt Rhule who the Panthers fired in week 5 after two and a half lackluster seasons. Reich, who struggled in Indianapolis due to shaky quarterback play, will finally have a chance to draft whoever he wants after they traded away wide receiver DJ Moore, the No. 9 pick, a second-round pick this year, a 2024 first-round pick and a second-round pick in 2025. Choosing from the consensus top four quarterbacks of  Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, Anthony Richardson and Will Levis will be challenging for many, but with the first overall you must go with the best and most NFL ready which is Bryce Young. Although the six-foot quarterback does not fit Reichs typical big-bodied frame he has worked with in the past, the Heisman winner has been nothing but impressive at Alabama. According to CFB Reference, Young passed for 8,200 yards, 79 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions while completing 65% of his passes during his 27 games as the starter. Young may not have the career that Drew Brees did, but the short frame, champion mindset, impeccable precision and elite decision-making makes it hard to imagine a world where Young is not a top-10 quarterback in the near future. 


2) Houston Texans


Prediction: Tyree Wilson, Outside Linebacker, Texas Tech

Best Case: Trade back with Raiders for additional picks

Betting Favorite: Will Levis, Quarterback, Kentucky 


    The Texans have been comically bad for the greater part of their 22-year existence. They have just four seasons with double-digit wins and have 11 wins in the past three years combined. For a franchise that has no real sense of direction, drafting the best player available is often better than drafting the best quarterback, and that is the route I think Houston will end up taking. The 6’6” 270-pound Tyree Wilson exploded onto the scene in 2021 with seven sacks and 14 tackles for loss and backed it up with another sack season in 2022, but had 23 additional tackles in three fewer games. Despite not having any pro-day or combine numbers due to foot surgery, Wilson has soared up the draft stocks with potential and excitement alone, which might end up being costly for the Texans. However, for as lost as the Texans may be, the Raiders are even more desperate after having their franchise quarterback Derek Carr left them for the Saints and the seventh overall is rather daunting for a team that needs to draft a quarterback. 


3) Arizona Cardinals


Prediction: Will Anderson, Outside Linebacker, Alabama 

Best Case: Will Anderson, Outside Linebacker, Alabama 

Betting Odds: CJ Stroud, Quarterback, Ohio State


    There seems to be a theme at the beginning of the draft when it comes to dysfunctional franchises, and the Cardinals are no different. After a failed four-year NFL experiment with alleged quarterback guru Kliff Kingsbury, the Cardinals fired the current USC offensive assistant and brought in Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. With proven foundational pieces in place with quarterback Kyler Murray, running back James Conner, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, safety Budda Baker, linebacker Isaiah Simmons and cornerback Marco Wilson the Super Bowl runner-up Gannon should be able to string together a quality season with the roster he already has on hand. However, the one thing they will be lacking is any sort of pass rush with the retirement of JJ Watt, and Will Anderson will help with just that. The athletic Anderson recorded 34 sacks, 204 tackles and 58 tackles for loss in his three-year career at Alabama. The 2021 Heisman runner-up might just be the best player in this whole draft class and has the stats to back it up. According to NFL.com the 250-pound Anderson ran a whopping 4.6 40-yard dash at the combine, which is a comparable time to skill position players such as 210-pound Davante Adams, 185-pound Antonio Brown and 205-pound Cooper Kupp. 


4) Indianapolis Colts


Prediction: CJ Stroud, Quarterback, Ohio State

Best Case: CJ Stroud, Quarterback, Ohio State

Betting Odds: Will Levis, Quarterback, Kentucky


    No matter which quarterback Jim Irsay, Chris Ballard and Shane Steichen can decide on, it is inevitable that the Colts will go into the 2023 season with a new starting quarterback for the ninth straight season and the fourth new coach in that time span. However, with a roster that on paper should be in the playoffs year in and year out just cannot seem to string together competent performances. With a new coach and strong foundation a young quarterback can change the projection for the next couple of years in Indianapolis. With lots of skepticism coming out about the former top projected pick in CJ Stroud over a failed cognitive test called S2 that appears to have really jumped onto the scene this year. But, these tests never really decide a player’s career as the only notable top scorers on the Wonderlic test in NFL history are quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick who had one winning season in his career and tight end Ben Watson who was always a good, never great player. Despite bombing the S2 test, Stroud will be just fine in his NFL career wherever he winds up, but it just makes sense for the Colts to snag him. 


5) Seattle Seahawks (from Denver)


Prediction: Jalen Carter, Defensive Line, Georgia

Best Case: Jalen Carter, Defensive Line, Georgia

Betting Odds: Will Anderson, Outside Linebacker, Alabama


    The Seahawks are in the dream position for an NFL team this draft. According to ESPN, after trading away Russell Wilson for the Broncos, they got quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant, defensive lineman Shelby Harris, two first-round picks (2022 and 2023), two second-round picks (2022 and 2023) and a 2022 fifth-round selection in. The Seahawks would make the playoffs after an impressive campaign from former ‘bust’ Geno Smith while Russell Wilson had the worst season of his career and the Broncos are without a top pick and pleading for Wilson to return to form. With a young roster ready to run it back, the only logical thing to do is to add the best player available and that would be Jalen Carter from Georgia. The 310-pound behemoth led Georgia to one of the best rush defenses in the country and will only help a Seahawks team that went 9-8 and had the league’s third-worst rush defense. 


6) Detroit Lions (from L.A. Rams)


Prediction: Devon Witherspoon, Cornerback, Illinois 

Best Case: Jalen Carter, Defensive Line, Georgia

Betting Odds:  Devon Witherspoon, Cornerback, Illinois 


    The Lions are in a similar spot that the Seahawks are in where they got rid of their long-time franchise quarterback and got better. The Lions had one of the best offenses in football that went 6-2 down the stretch to finish the season. Ideally, their 29th-ranked rush defense would add the talents of Jalen Carter, but with the Seahawks likely picking him up just one spot prior, their defense still needs help. Devon Witherspoon helped lead Illinois to the best overall defense in the country and contributed three interceptions and 41 tackles to the cause. According to Pro Football Focus, a site dedicated to watching and grading film of college and professional players, Witherspoon showed versatility by lining up in the slot, perimeter and in the box this past season while allowing just a 25.3 passer rating. 


7) Las Vegas Raiders


Prediction: Anthony Richardson, Quarterback, Florida 

Best Case: Trade up with Houston

Betting Odds: Christian Gonzalez, Cornerback, Oregon 


    As previously mentioned, the Raiders are lost and dysfunctional. Derek Carr left his contract and signed with the New Orleans Saints while the Raiders still have to keep his college teammate and top receiver in the league, Davante Adams happy. Although it will not fix all their problems, Anthony Richardson going to a team that has some of the league’s best weapons in Davante Adams, Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller would be crucial to his development. The 6’4” quarterback has been rightfully labeled an experiment since he has all the physical traits without the stats to show for it. Throwing for just 2,500 yards and 17 touchdowns on an inefficient completion percentage of 53% is not ideal. But, he ran for 650 yards and nine touchdowns and ran a 4.43 40-yard dash to pair with his 40.5” vertical and 10 ‘9” broad jump. The athletic specimen could solve the Raiders’ problems. 


8) Atlanta Falcons


Prediction: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Wide Receiver, Ohio State 

Best Case: Trade back for picks

Betting Odds: Bijan Robinson, Running Back, Texas University


    To keep it simple, the Falcons do not have much going for them right now. They have promising talents in wide receiver Drake London, running back Tyler Allgier and tight end Kyle Pitts, but have yet to see any of them get fully immersed into the offense. Despite choppy quarterback play from Marcus Mariota this season, it is too early to give up on their 2022 third-round pick Desmond Ridder. The addition of Smith-Njigba, who went for 1,600 yards and nine touchdowns before an injury that would sideline him for the majority of the 2022 season,  would help open up a stagnant offense in Atlanta. 


9) Chicago Bears (from Carolina)


Prediction: Peter Skoronski, Offensive Tackle, Northwestern

Best Case: Peter Skoronski, Offensive Tackle, Northwestern

Betting Odds: Jalen Carter, Defensive Tackle, Georgia


    After trading back from the first overall pick, General Manager Ryan Poles gave his vote of confidence to Justin Fields that he did not want any of the available quarterbacks at the first overall pick. Getting DJ Moore in the trade gets Fields an added weapon as well, leaving just one factor left: blocking. The Bears fielded one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL which made Justin Fields run for his life by creating with his legs. The anchor from Northwestern, Peter Skoronski should help with both pass protection and run blocking in a promising future being built in Chicago.  


10) Philadelphia Eagles (from New Orleans)


Prediction: Paris Johnson Jr., Offensive Tackle, Ohio State 

Best Case: Peter Skoronski, Offensive Tackle, Northwestern 

Betting Odds: Peter Skoronski, Offensive Tackle, Northwestern 


    Some things just are not fair. A couple of months after reaching the Super Bowl, the Eagles are back in the top-10 hoping to reload any talent lost from their Super Bowl team. Not much will be needed for a team that boasted a top-eight defense and top-three offense while making it to the Super Bowl. One thing is for sure though, is that some of their best players are not getting any younger. 35-year-old center Jason Kelce said he will be returning for at least one more season and with injuries piling up for tackle Lane Johnson, drafting an offensive lineman makes sense. Paris Johnson Jr. has been going viral ever since he was throwing around defenders in his high school highlight reel, but he is much more than his viral clips. The versatile 6’6” lineman started at right guard in 2021 before switching to left tackle in 2022 for the Buckeyes. Allowing a total of two sacks while switching positions is impressive and wherever he is needed on the line for the Eagles, he will fill in to help. 


11) Tennessee Titans


Prediction: Will Levis, Quarterback, Kentucky

Best Case: Will Levis, Quarterback, Kentucky 


    The Titans’ recent success abruptly stopped this year after letting go of wide receiver AJ Brown, 34-year-old quarterback Ryan Tannehill starting to regress and running back Derrick Henry starting to feel the high usage rate on his body. There are a couple of different ways the Titans can go about getting back to prominence, but Will Levis is most likely to help them immediately. Levis has been projected to go as high as the second overall pick as of late, but I think if he falls out of the top four, he will stumble into the laps of Tennessee. Although I do think he is just a glorified version of Stetson Bennett, Levis has the arm strength and winning mentality that can help a team with an established run game and competent defense get back to the playoffs. 


12) Houston Texans (from Cleveland)


Prediction: Christian Gonzalez, Cornerback, Oregon 

Best Case: Christian Gonzalez, Cornerback, Oregon 


    For the second straight year, the Texans have two picks in the top-15 to help revamp their on-field success. Last year they hit a home run with their third overall pick in defensive back Derek Stingley Jr. and drafted a quality starting offensive tackle in Kenyon Green at the 15th pick. This time around, I think they help build around Stingley to create an elite secondary by drafting Christian Gonzalez. The Oregon prospect started his career at Colorado where he was good, not great before transferring to Oregon where he showed out all season. With four interceptions and allowing a 74.7 passer rating, he was one of the best corners in college football last season. He is a versatile athlete who took snaps in the slot, perimeter and inside the box. He reminds me of a taller version of Colts cornerback Kenny Moore. 


13) Green Bay Packers (from New York Jets)


Prediction: Nolan Smith, Outside Linebacker, Georgia 

Best Case: Christian Gonzalez, Cornerback, Oregon


    The Packers are simply falling apart. They traded away Aaron Rodgers to swap picks with the Jets after the longtime Packer requested a trade. This move gives Jordan Love the keys to the offense. They have promising offensive talent with receivers Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs and one of the best running back duos in the league with Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. The Packers did field a top-10 pass defense, but struggled against the run and with rushing the passer. Nolan Smith would fit well into the starting lineup to help solve those problems. The 6’3” 235-pound linebacker struggled with injuries during his time at Georgia, but impressed when he was on the field with 15 tackles for loss across his last two seasons and three forced fumbles his junior season. Taking snaps primarily outside the tackle and occasionally off the ball gives the Packers a true edge rusher they have been looking for. 


14) New England Patriots


Prediction: Brian Branch, Safety, Alabama 

Best Case: Brian Branch, Safety, Alabama 


    The Patriots once again fielded a top-10 defense that forced the second most turnovers in the league last season. The offense was lackluster with Mac Jones under center, but he has shown promise including a 10-6 record his rookie season. Their wide receiver room does not have any true top target guys, but with the addition of Juju Smith Schuster, there really is no reason to reach on a guy unless Johnston or Smith-Njigba falls. And with no quarterback left worth taking this late in the first round, adding more firepower to an aging secondary is the best bet. 35-year-old Devin McCourty was still an X Factor last season, but retired after 13 years in March. With a spot to fill at safety, Brian Branch makes a lot of sense. The 6’0 defensive back was incredibly impressive for Alabama lining up at slot, safety, linebacker and perimeter. He had a handful of pass-rushing snaps that translated to an impressive 14 tackles for loss and three sacks to pair with 90 total tackles. Not many people could fill in for an all-time great like McCourty, but if someone could do it I would not be surprised if Branch pulls it off. 


15) New York Jets (from Green Bay)


Prediction: Quentin Johnston, Wide Receiver, TCU

Best Case: Any of the four quarterbacks fall


    For over the last decade, the Jets have been the laughing stock of the NFL, reaching double digits just once and not making the playoffs since 2010. This past season, an elite defense and running back tandem of Michael Carter and Breece Hall got them to a 6-3 record before Hall’s injury and finishing the season on a 1-7 skid. The problem is their quarterback, Zach Wilson, but just recently Aaron Rodgers finally got traded to the Big City after numerous rumors were flying around. Swapping first-round picks, the Jets have their answer at quarterback, but the future Hall of Famer will be turning 40 years old soon and is just a temporary fix. No matter who is at quarterback, Quentin Johnston will help out greatly. 2022 draftee Garrett Wilson exploded with 1,100 yards his rookie season, but with their next best receiver being tight end Tyler Conklin adding another explosive piece will only help. Johnston went for 1,069 yards and six touchdowns this season for TCU, including 163 yards and a touchdown against Michigan in the playoffs. 


16) Washington Commanders


Prediction: Darnell Wright, Offensive Tackle, Tennessee

Best Case: Paris Johnson Jr, Offensive Tackle, Ohio State


    The Commanders have been flirting with mediocrity for the majority of the last decade. With quarterback once again being a need after the Carson Wentz experiment failed yet again, leading to his release on Feb 27. Whether Ron Riveria goes with fan-favorite Taylor Heinicke or 2022 fifth-round draft pick Sam Howell, drafting a quarterback here at 16 does not make sense. Drafting a versatile lineman like Darnell Wright does, though. Wright has played both right and left tackle at Tennessee, allowing zero sacks in his last season with the Volunteers. Wright will add depth and talent to a failing offensive line unit that will likely be shuffled up once again. 


17) Pittsburgh Steelers


Prediction: Joey Porter Jr., Defensive Back, Penn State

Best Case: Brian Branch, Safety, Alabama 


    Mike Tomlin had the Steelers so close to the playoffs once again, going 6-2 down the stretch and extending their franchise streak of non-losing seasons to 19 straight, with Tomlin being coach for the last 16. Tomlin fielded a top-tier defense once again last season but struggled inside the box. Alex Highsmith, Cam Heyward and TJ Watt add plenty of pressure to the quarterback, but when you rely on your best ball-hawk in Minkah Fitzpatrick to also make 100 tackles you may have a problem. Thankfully, Fitzpatrick has been able to stay on the field despite the heavy workload, but taking Joey Porter Jr. would solve some problems. The 6’2” cornerback did not give up a single touchdown this past season and has taken snaps in the box, at safety and in the slot. Being able to add another versatile defensive playmaker like Porter Jr. will help them a lot. 


18) Detroit Lions


Prediction: Calijah Kancey, Defensive Line, Pittsburgh 

Best Case: Quentin Johnston, Wide Receiver, TCU


    As previously mentioned, the Lions are in a good spot with Dan Campbell as they went 9-8 and got the better end of the Matthew Stafford deal. They helped out their secondary earlier in the draft by taking Devon Witherspoon, but with their interior defensive line still needing a big-time boost from their 2022 ranking of 29th in rush defense, Calijah Kancey will solve a lot of their problems. The 6’0” 275-pound man lined up all over the line at various positions for Pitt recording eight sacks and 30 hurries in 11 games played. Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston helped solve some pass rush issues last season for the Lions, but Kancey will only help them get better. 


19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Prediction: Bijan Robinson, Running Back, Texas 

Best Case: Bijan Robinson, Running Back, Texas


    Despite winning their division and making the playoffs, the Buccaneers were rather bad with an 8-9 record on the season. With Tom Brady officially retiring, their bad offense will get worse while their 13th-ranked defense can only do so much. As previously mentioned, in the draft when a team has no sense of direction, taking the best player available is often a good solution. Bijan Robinson is that player for the Buccaneers. 27-year-old and former All-Pro running back Leonard Fournette is only getting older and showed it with just over 700 yards last season. In his two seasons as the main starter, Robinson rushed for 1,100 and 1,600 yards, respectively and a total of 35 touchdowns. Robinson is an efficient runner and one of the best overall prospects in the draft, but we see it every year when the best running backs in college football plummet in the drafts because of the perceived low value of the position. 


20) Seattle Seahawks


Prediction: Broderick Jones, Offensive Tackle, Georgia 

Best Case: Darnell Wright, Offensive Tackle, Tennessee


    With their previous selection of Jalen Carter, the Seahawks will be helping their run defense. However, their 18th-ranked rushing attack needs some help as well. Broderick Jones will be able to help with that. Despite not being as versatile as some of the other offensive linemen ahead of him, Jones helped Georgia to 205 rushing yards per game and did not allow a sack in his 470 pass-blocking snaps. 


21) Los Angeles Chargers


Prediction: Jordan Addison, Wide Receiver, USC

Best Case: Nolan Smith, Outside Linebacker, Georgia 


    The Chargers start off the part of the draft where already good teams are trying to get better. These selections often have some questionable picks. The Chargers had one of the better offenses in the league and despite having some notable names in the receiving room like Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, both of those players are only getting older and have battled injuries. Jordan Addison would help add to the depth and potentially blossom in their air-it-out playstyle with the arm of Justin Herbert. After a monster 2021 campaign with Pittsburgh, Addison transferred to USC where he saw some struggles. Primarily due to the change to perimeter receiver, moving Addison back in the slot once he gets to the league will be a favor to him and whoever ends up drafting him. Addison could become a dangerous weapon down the line if he gets to learn from Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. 


22) Baltimore Ravens


Prediction: Myles Murphy, Outside Linebacker, Clemson

Best Case: Myles Murphy, Outside Linebacker, Clemson


    One of the best teams in all of football led by quarterback Lamar Jackson, tight end Mark Andrews and a stout defense that was top three in the league. The only real flaw on the team was the pass-rush led by an aging Justin Houston with nine sacks. Myles Murphy will give some fresh legs to add to their pass rush rotation. The 6’5” 275-pound edge rusher impressed in his three years at Clemson, recording 18.5 sacks and 36 tackles for loss in his 35 games played. Having experience lining up in the B gap, over the tackle and his primary outside the tackle position will give defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald plenty of options to spice up his blitz packages. 


23) Minnesota Vikings


Prediction: Deonte Banks, Cornerback, Maryland 

Best Case: Calijah Kancey, Defensive Line, Pittsburgh


    Despite being 13-4 and having a top-10 offense on the season, the Vikings just kind of felt bad all year. They had a negative point differential and had an atrocious defense throughout the season. They need help at all three levels on that side of the ball, but with Deonte Banks still available it is too good to pass up. The 6 ‘1” cornerback battled through injuries his first three years at Maryland but finally was able to put together an impressive 12-game season in his last outing. He was not perfect in any sort of way, giving up four touchdowns on 60 targets, but he showed versatility lining up in the box, slot and perimeter like many of the other first-round defensive backs. Despite some blunders on the field, what sells Banks is the hyper-athleticism he displayed at the combine with his 4.35 40-yard dash and 42” vertical jump. If nothing else, Banks will give some depth to a veteran defensive back group led by Patrick Peterson and Harrison Smith. 


24) Jacksonville Jaguars


Prediction: Lukas Van Ness, Outside Linebacker, Iowa

Best Case: Myles Murphy, Outside Linebacker, Clemson


    For the first time since 2017, the Jaguars fielded a competitive team and it was fun to watch. Trevor Lawrence is finally starting to shine, they add Calvin Ridley to an already top-tier wide receiver group and bring back the high morales that went 6-1 down the stretch before losing to the eventual Super Bowl champs. The Jaguars had a lot going for them last season, but pass defense was not one of them. They have a young and progressing secondary, but despite taking Travon Walker first overall last year, he did not really shine at all, instead, Josh Allen had a solid season with seven sacks. Lukas Van Ness will not solve all their problems, but he will not have to. Adding quality reps to the rotation is all he will need to do, and for someone who had 13 sacks and 19 tackles for loss in 26 games played, he can play up to those exact needs. 


25) New York Giants


Prediction: Zay Flowers, Wide Receiver, Boston College

Best Case: Jordan Addison, Wide Receiver, USC


    The Giants going 9-7-1 and making the playoffs was one of the more pleasant surprises in the league last year. They had a healthy season from running back Saquon Barkley and quarterback Daniel Jones finally got everything to click. Despite all this good, one thing was clear: they need to get Jones some receivers. Darius Slayton had 700 yards, but aside from him, no one was over 570 yards and Barkley ended up being their fourth-highest yards-getter. So, it is clear that Zay Flowers is the man for the Giants. The three-year starter at Boston College amassed over 3,000 yards in his career but capped it off with his best season of 1077 yards and 12 touchdowns. Flowers showed he was capable of playing both in the slot and out wide despite his 5’10” stature. If the rest of the offense progresses as they should, and Flowers does his thing, there is no reason the Giants should not be in the playoffs. 


26) Dallas Cowboys


Prediction: Bryan Bresee, Defensive Line, Clemson

Best Case: Zay Flowers, Wide Receiver, Boston College


    The Cowboys return a roster that was top-five in both offense and defense, so there are not many holes to fill here. Wide receiver is an obvious need for Dak Prescott as there is a big drop-off between CeeDee Lamb and the next best guy, but with no receivers worth picking this high left, the defensive line is the next thing in need of improvements. Aside from Micah Parsons who is everywhere on the field for them, an aging DeMarcus Lawrence and some average players make up the rest of their pass rush and run defense. Bryan Bresee will help the Cowboys improve both aspects, and this guy just feels like a Cowboys player. He has been in the media limelight since his junior year of high school and he backs up his trash talk with his play on the field. Bresee played all over the defensive line for the Tigers and hurried the quarterback 17 times this past season. 


27) Buffalo Bills


Prediction: Emmanuel Forbes, Cornerback, Mississippi State

Best Case: Myles Murphy, Outside Linebacker, Clemson


    Similar to the Cowboys, the Bills are returning the second-best offense and defense in football. There just are not many holes on this roster. However, the one thing they did not excel in is pass defense, being 15th in passing yards allowed and 13th in passing touchdowns allowed. A secondary that really only has Jordan Poyer and Kaiir Elam to show for it can definitely get a boost this draft. Emmanuel Forbes would do just that. Forbes was a ballhawk during his time at Mississippi State, snagging 14 interceptions in three seasons. He did allow a lot of touchdowns but held opposing quarterbacks to a 44.7 passer rating when targeted this past season. He did not show as much versatility as some of the other defensive backs in this draft class but impressed in the role he was given. 


28) Cincinnati Bengals


Prediction: Michael Mayer, Tight End, Notre Dame

Best Case: Michael Mayer, Tight End, Notre Dame


    There is not much to say about Joe Burrow and the Bengals. They are a very talented football team with great players on both sides of the ball. The one thing they do need, though, is a tight end. Hayden Hurst was great for them last season, but when he signed with the Panthers this off-season they are left obsolete in that department. Drafting Michael Mayer would be a homerun for the Bengals. The physical and athletic tight end from South Bend had 800 yards and nine touchdowns on 67 catches this past season. Mayer had success with both his hand in the dirt and in the slot and will be a valuable asset to this already explosive offense. 


29) New Orleans Saints (from San Francisco through Miami and Denver)


Prediction: Dalton Kincaid, Tight End, Utah

Best Case: Trade up for Quarterback


    By trading the rights to their 10th overall pick to the Eagles, the struggling Saints are not forced to settle with the 29th overall selection on Thursday. There are a lot of holes on this team, but the biggest is clearly tight end in my opinion. Granted, they got quality tight end play from Juwan Johnson this past season and swiss army knife Taysom Hill is technically a tight end. However, Johnson came into the league as a wide receiver, and I feel it would be best to bring in Dalton Kincaid to fill his role and switch him back over to receiver. Kincaid took about 25% of his snaps with his hand in the dirt this past season and was more of a blocker in previous seasons as well. One of the best PFF Grades in the draft at 90.2, Kincaid could end up being a steal for the Saints. 


30) Philadelphia Eagles


Prediction: Josh Downs, Wide Receiver, North Carolina

Best Case: Zay Flowers, Wide Receiver, Boston College


    After locking down some added offensive line depth with Paris Johnson Jr. with their 10th overall pick, the Eagles are not left with many other holes to fill, but one clear one remaining is a third wide receiver. AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith are two phenomenal weapons to have, but sooner or later teams will figure one out, or if one gets injured they are left with Quez Watkins backing them up. Josh Downs compiled 19 touchdowns and over 2,300 yards over his last two seasons in Chapel Hill. The athletic slot receiver showed his speed at the combine with a 4.4 40-yard dash and even jumped 38.5 inches despite being just 5’9”. 


31) Kansas City Chiefs


Prediction: Jalin Hyatt, Wide Receiver, Tennessee 

Best Case: Bryan Bresee, Defensive Line, Clemson


    It is hard for the reigning world champs to get better through the draft, and the Chiefs have shown us in the way they are not afraid to take some risks when it comes to drafting at the end of the first round. Despite these so-called “reaches,” they have plenty of recent picks who become contributors to their teams such as their 30th overall selection George Karlafatis last year. Now, in no way do they need a bunch of receiving help with Travis Kelce hauling in the majority of their targets, but without JuJu Smith-Schuster on the roster, they are left with very little receiving help. Jalin Hyatt will more than help by taking some pressure off Kelce. Hyatt exploded onto the scene with 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns in a pass-first Tennessee offense quarterbacked by Hendon Hooker. The six-foot tall deep-threat will be another weapon at Patrick Mahomes’ fingertips and could help the Chiefs run it back next year.