Welcome to the NFL Offseason. The Senior Bowl and the Super Bowl are all over, and it’s time for teams to evaluate themselves before free agency and the NFL Draft. Check out my latest projections for the 1st 3 rounds of April’s draft.
1. Cincinnati Bengals: QB Joe Burrow, LSU
No real need to discuss this pick, as it’s a forgone conclusion that Cincy will be taking the hometown QB with the 1st pick. Burrow has the talent, the pedigree, the attitude, literally everything Cincy will want and need. This is a locked in pick.
2. Washington Redskins: Edge Chase Young, Ohio State
Another one not worth diving into. Chase Young is the best player in this class and will be selected number 2 overall. The Redskins have a young QB in Dwayne Haskins who showed enough as a rookie to hold off the front office from taking another young QB. Chase Young will give them a predator on the edge who will terrorize the NFC East for years to come.
3. Detroit Lions: CB Jeff Okudah, Ohio State
Here is where the draft actually starts. The Lions are in make or break mode, as they have a talented team that can’t seem to win. On the defensive side, corner is a huge need, and Okudah, who compares to Jalem Ramsey, is a plug and play, future all pro starter from day 1. If the Lions stay at 3 (which they likely won’t) Okudah provides the positional value worthy of this spot.
4. New York Giants: OL Jedrick Wills, Alabama
Dave Gettleman has never traded a 1st round pick and I don’t expect that to change, especially when he will have the chance to draft his left tackle of the future in Wills, a monster from Alabama.
5. Miami Dolphins: QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
This pick will likely happen but at 3 instead of 5, as Miami will more than likely use some of their many draft picks to jump up to Detroit’s slot to make sure they get their franchise signal caller. Tua wants to be in Miami (at least according to his agent) and the situation is perfect for him to adjust to the role as Ryan Fitzpatrick will likely return to bridge the gap. Miami finally gets their guy.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: QB Justin Herbert, Oregon
The Chargers are officially moving on from Phillip Rivers, and Anthony Lynn was extended, meaning they are prepared to start over at the quarterback position. Herbert has the looks of an All-Pro signal caller and could usher in a new, exciting chapter for a team that desperately needs a spark.
7. Carolina Panthers: LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
The sudden retirement of Luke Kuechly is going to hit the Carolina defense hard, which is part of the reason Simmons would make sense here. With his versatility, speed, and strength, he can play almost any position outside of nose tackle. New head coach Matt Rhule got a long contract with the Panthers and is clearly being given a lot of time to build up this team, which is why I don’t believe he will be pressured to reach for a quarterback here, and will instead go the “best player available” approach with Simmons.
8. Arizona Cardinals: OT Mekhi Bekton, Louisville
I didn’t watch many Louisville games this year, so I am hoping on the Bekton train a bit late, but holy smokes this guy is an absolute monster! Listed at 6’7 and 370 pounds, he moves extremely well for someone his size, and with NFL coaching, he will likely only get better. Receiver is tempting here for Arizona, but they need to invest in protecting their young franchise quarterback Kyler Murray, which makes Bekton the easy pick.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
When a guy who has been compared to OBJ falls to you and fills an immediate need at receiver, you don’t let that guy slide anymore. Jeudy is the best receiver in this draft class and can be the number 1 option in Jacksonville for the next 10 years and will form a great pair with DJ Chark. This receiver class is deep, so addressing another need here makes a lot of sense, but Jeudy is too good to pass up.
10. Cleveland Browns: OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia
Protecting Baker Mayfield needs to be the priority for Cleveland this offseason, and Thomas is a plug-in left tackle who falls to the Browns thanks to the rise of players like Bekton and Wills. He’s protected Jake Fromm’s blindside for the last 3 seasons against talented SEC pass rushers and should transition well to the NFL.
11. New York Jets: OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
This is literally the same analysis as for the Brown’s pick. The Jets have a young quarterback in Sam Darnold and they need to be able t protect him and give him time to make throws. Wirfs played mostly right tackle in college but has the skills and size to not only transition to the left side, but also play the interior at a high level. This is a must draft player for New York.
12. Las Vegas Raiders: WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
Las Vegas needs a play maker at receiver and CeeDee Lamb offers explosiveness and strength to be an absolute baller at the next level. How he runs at the combine will be big, but Lamb is a top talent who will change the offense for Derek Carr (if he’s still the quarterback going forward).
13. Indianapolis Colts: QB Jordan Love, Utah State
Quarterbacks are fun to evaluate because traits are so important, and Love has them. Great arm strength, size, mobility, and he can make a lot of different throws, similar to one Patrick Mahomes. That alone is enough for the Colts to love Love and take him as their quarterback of the future. With Jacoby Brissett coming back, he can take the Mahomes route and learn for a season behind a veteran before taking over. The spot and the player just make sense here
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Jacob Eason, Washington
If you have listened to any of Bruce Arians post season press conferences, it’s pretty clear that he doesn’t want or need Jameis Winston back in Tampa. What he will need is another big armed quarterback to run his offense, and Eason has the biggest arm in this years crop of quarterbacks. The film is questionable, and this is definitely a reach for Eason, but quarterbacks always go earlier than expected, and he is a Bruce Arians style signal caller.
15. Denver Broncos: WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
Drew Lock showed a lot of potential last season, so John Elway will look to build around him this season to help his development. Adding a Tyreek Hill type player in Ruggs will give Lock a downfield weapon who will perfectly complement Courtland Sutton.
16. Atlanta Falcons: DL Derrick Brown, Auburn
The fall of Derrick Brown finally ends at 16. A top 7 talent in this draft class, Brown slides due to the positional value of a defensive tackle and team needs. The Falcons defense needs help and pairing Brown and Brady Jarrett will give them a dominant duo up front for years to come.
17. Dallas Cowboys: S Xavier McKinney, Alabama
The Cowboys have a ton of free agents, including 3 safeties, so this pick addresses a major need and gives them a big upgrade at the safety position. I have mocked LSU star Grant Delpit here before, but McKinney simply out played him this season, and gets the bump to my number 1 safety.
18. Miami Dolphins (Via Pittsburgh Steelers): Edge K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU
Miami addressed their need for a franchise quarterback with their 1st pick, and now their defensive minded coach Brian Flores gets a talented pass rusher in Chaisson with their 2nd pick. Chaisson didn’t have a ton of production this season, but teams ran away from him because of how talented he is, and when he did get opportunities, he roasted some talented tackles like Isaiah Wilson and Alex Leatherwood (who is returning to school, likely because of Chaisson).
19. Las Vegas Raiders (Via Chicago Bears): LB Patrick Queen, LSU
After getting a playmaker for the offense with their 1st selection, Mike Maylock and the Raiders address the linebacker position here and snag Queen, who absolutely dominated in the College Football Playoff and showed off some amazing athleticism and range. This guy will be a stud in the middle for years to come.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (Via Los Angeles Rams): Edge AJ Epenesa, Iowa
Yannick Ngakoue is a free agent and the Jags may not be able to pony up the cash to bring him back, so taking Epenesa here could give them a much cheaper, just as effective fix. Epenesa can play inside and out and will offer good versatility for whichever team lands him.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: WR Justin Jefferson, LSU
The Eagles just need receivers, it’s that simple. Jefferson offers a great mix of speed and size, and was an extremely reliable target for Joe Burrow at LSU, and can be that for Carson Wentz in the NFL.
22. Buffalo Bills: WR Tee Higgins, Clemson
Buffalo needs to give Josh Allen a big wideout to throw to, and if Higgins falls to 22, they shouldn’t hesitate to scoop him up.
23. New England Patriots: DL Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
This isn’t a top need for the Pats, but this feels like a Bill Belichick draft pick. Best player available is never a bad strategy, and Kinlaw would provide a disruptive, versatile force on the defensive line that may remind Belichick of a similar former Patriot, Richard Seymour.
24. New Orleans Saints: CB Kristian Fulton, LSU
New Orleans needs an upgrade at the WR2 position, but in a class that is so deep at receiver, it’s better to address another need early. Eli Apple hasn’t worked out for the Saints, so finding an upgrade to play opposite Marshon Lattimore will be important. Fulton is coming off another strong season where he played with injuries, and will be a fan favorite after winning a National Title with LSU earlier this year.
25. Minnesota Vikings: CB CJ Henderson, Florida
Xavier Rhodes making the Pro Bowl this year was an absolute joke. The former star corner simply can’t keep up with receivers anymore and struggled mightily this season. Henderson has top level coverage skills and is great with his hands, and will provide the Vikings secondary a much needed upgrade.
26. Miami Dolphins (Via Houston Texans): OT Josh Jones, Houston
All premium positions for the Dolphins in round 1. They got their quarterback, an edge rusher, and now an offensive tackle to protect Tua going forward.
27. Seattle Seahawks: Edge Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State
Seattle plays in a division with Kyler Murray, Jared Goff, and Jimmy Garoppolo, so getting a guy who can get after these guys will be very important, especially if Jadeveon Clowney leaves in free agency.
28. Baltimore Ravens: LB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma
Baltimore never truly replaced CJ Mosely after he left for the New York Jets last offseason. Murray offers them a young replacement with top speed and tackling ability.
29. Tennessee Titans: Edge Marlon Davidson, Auburn
If Derrick Henry leaves, this becomes a running back, but assuming he’s back, picking up another edge rusher to go opposite Harold Landry will be a huge need for Tennessee. Davidson dominated the Senior Bowl, which is why he is just now showing up in my mock draft.
30. Green Bay Packers: WR Laviska Shenault Jr, Colorado
Green Bay needs weapons for Aaron Rodgers, and Shenault offers them a skillset the Packers can use in a litany of ways on the offensive side of the ball.
31. San Francisco 49ers: S Grant Delpit, LSU
Delpit has a ton of talent but didn’t play his best this season, which is why he falls to the end of the 1st round, to a San Francisco team who could use an upgrade at the safety position.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: CB Jeff Gladney, TCU
The World Champion Chiefs have an incredible offense and a defense that made the big plays when needed, outside of Tyrann Mathieu, the defensive secondary leaves a lot to be desired. Upgrading at corner should be a top priority in this draft, and Gladney’s combination of size and ball skills make him an easy pick for Kansas City.
33. Cincinnati Bengals: WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
34. Indianapolis Colts (Via Washington Redskins): DL Ross Blacklock, TCU
35. Detroit Lions: Edge Terrell Lewis, Alabama
36. New York Giants: Edge Bradless Anae, Utah
37. Los Angeles Chargers: OT Austin Jackson, USC
38. Carolina Panthers: DL Neville Galimore, Oklahoma
39. Miami Dolphins: RB JK Dobbins, Ohio State
40. Arizona Cardinals: LB Malik Harrison, Ohio State
41. Cleveland Browns: S Ashtyn Davis, California
42. Jacksonville Jaguars: CB Trevon Diggs, Alabama
43. Chicago Bears (Via Las Vegas Raiders): TE Cole Kmet, Notre Dame
44. Indianapolis Colts: WR KJ Hamler, Penn State
45. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: RB D’Andre Swift, Georgia
46. Denver Broncos: DL James Lynch, Baylor
47. Atlanta Falcons: CB AJ Terrell, Clemson
48. New York Jets: Edge Zach Baun, Wisconsin
49. Pittsburgh Steelers: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU
50. Chicago Bears: OL Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin
51. Dallas Cowboys: DL Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M
52. Los Angeles Rams: OL Nick Harris, Washington
53. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Jaylon Johnson, Utah
54. Buffalo Bills: Edge Julian Okwara, Notre Dame
55. Atlanta Falcons (Via New England Patriots): TE Brycen Hopkins, Purdue
56. Miami Dolphins (Via New Orleans Saints): WR Jalen Reagor, TCU
57. Houston Texans: RB Johnathan Taylor, Wisconsin
58. Minnesota Vikings: OL Cesar Ruiz, Michigan
59. Seattle Seahawks: OL Isaiah Wilson, Georgia
60. Baltimore Ravens: WR Donavan Peoples-Jones, Michigan
61. Tennessee Titans: OL John Simpson, Clemson
62. Green Bay Packers: TE Hunter Bryant, Washington
63. Seattle Seahawks (Via San Francisco 49ers): WR KJ Hill, Ohio State
64. Kansas City Chiefs: LB Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech
65. Cincinnati Bengals: OL Matt Hennessy, Temple
66. Washington Redskins: WR Denzel Mims, Baylor
67. Detroit Lions: WR Van Jefferson, Florida
68. New York Jets (Via New York Giants): OL Lloyd Cushenberry III, LSU
69. Carolina Panthers: CB Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn
70. Miami Dolphins: S Antoine Winfield Jr, Minnesota
71. Los Angeles Chargers: CB Cameron Dantzler, Mississippi State
72. Arizona Cardinals: WR Michael Pittman Jr, USC
73. Jacksonville Jaguars: OL Lucas Niang, TCU
74. Cleveland Browns: DL Raekwon Davis, Alabama
75. Indianapolis Colts: Edge Joshua Uche, Michigan
76. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OT Matthew Peart, UConn
77. Denver Broncos: OL Prince Tega Wanogho, Auburn
78. Atlanta Falcons: Edge Curtis Weaver, Boise State
79. New York Jets: WR Gabriel Davis, UCF
80. Las Vegas Raiders: S Brandon Jones, Texas
81. Las Vegas Raiders (Via Chicago Bears): CB Damon Arnette, Ohio State
82. Dallas Cowboys: TE Thaddeus Moss, LSU
83. Denver Broncos (Via Pittsburgh Steelers): CB Troy Pride, Notre Dame
84. Los Angeles Rams: Edge Nick Coe, Auburn
85. Philadelphia Eagles: LB Troy Dye, Oregon
86. Buffalo Bills: DL Jordan Elliot, Missouri
87. New England Patriots: QB Jake Fromm, Georgia
88. New Orleans Saints: WR Quartney Davis, Texas A&M
89. Minnesota Vikings: DL Leki Fotu, Utah
90. Cleveland Browns (Via Houston Texans): Edge Johnathan Greenard, Florida
91. Las Vegas Raiders (Via Seattle Seahawks): Edge Kenny Willekes, Michigan State
92. Baltimore Ravens: Edge Jabari Zuniga, Florida
93. Tennessee Titans: TE Jared Pinkney, Vanderbilt
94. Green Bay Packers: DL Rashard Lawrence, LSU
95. Denver Broncos (Via San Francisco 49ers): S Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne
96. Kansas City Chiefs: RB Cam Akers, Florida State
Photo: (Sean Rayford – AP Photo)