By: Grant

Grant Poarch’s First Round Mock 1.0

            This year’s NFL offseason has been one of the wildest in recent memory. Tom Brady “retired” and the subsequently unretired. Stars have been on the move (Russell Wilson to Denver, Khalil Mack to the Chargers, Von Miller to the Bills, etc etc etc.) There have been so many moves this offseason that I, even as a Saints fan, temporarily forgot that our star running-back (Alvin Kamara) was arrested for beating someone’s ass in an elevator.

            Not only did I momentarily forget that Kamara was arrested, but I also forgot (until about two weeks ago) that the draft was coming up. Just like free agency and player trades, the draft has also had as much action as a good-looking freshman girl at Uptown (now known as Yesterday’s for my Tennessee folk out there).

New Orleans and Philadelphia made perhaps the biggest move of the draft so far as they swapped first round picks. The Eagles also gave the Saints another first round pick this year in exchange for more draft capital in this year’s draft as well as a first round pick next year and a second round pick in 2024. Not only that, there are rumors out there that the Steelers will make a move up from the 20th pick to ensure that Malik Willis will be their quarterback of the future.

Of course, there are other moves that happened and certainly will be more to come. So, if I haven’t mentioned your team yet, I’m sorry about that. However, if your team has a first round pick, then you’re in luck to hear my unqualified thoughts about the matter.

  • 1st Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
    • Clearly, Jacksonville has a lot of needs as they are at the top of the draft year in and year out. The Jags can go in one of two directions with the first overall selection. They could address the needs on the offensive line with the likes of a guy like Evan Neal, or they could go with defense. With Jacksonville having one of the worst defenses in the league and ranking in the lower half of the league in sacks, Aidan Hutchinson (who many consider the best player in the draft despite there not being a consensus number 1 pick) seems to be the right decision for the Jaguars.
  • 2nd Pick: Detroit Lions: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
    •  Like Jacksonville, Detroit has holes all over the defensive side of the ball. Although there may a bigger need for the Lions at cornerback, a talent like Thibodeaux is too good to pass up. That being said, don’t be surprised to see Detroit trade back to get more capital in the first round this year and next.
  • 3rd Pick: Houston Texans: Kyle Hamilton, Safety, Notre Dame
    • Despite the concerns with Hamilton’s 40 time, he is an outstanding safety with sideline to sideline coverage and underrated speed. The Texans have needs at nearly every position on the field, so taking the versatile safety here makes sense.
  • 4th Pick: New York Jets: Derek Stingley Jr., Cornerback, LSU
    • The Jets have needs at receiver, linebacker, and cornerback. Unless New York decides to trade back (I don’t have trades in this mock), then taking anyone other than a corner is drafting them too high. With Stingley, I believe that the Jets would be getting the best cornerback in the draft. Although some consider Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner as a better corner than Stingley, I consider the prestige of where Stingley came from (LSU) and the quality of defensive backs they have produced. That being said, they are close in skill. However, Stingley is better and I don’t see a Cincinnati cornerback outperforming a LSU one in the league.
  • 5th Pick: New York Giants: Charles Cross, Tackle, Mississippi State
    • The Giants are one of those teams where it’s like, does it really matter who they pick? They are consistently terrible, and one of the reasons for that is their offensive line. Who knows how much longer Saquon will be in the Big Apple, so why not get him some help? Charles Cross is the most talented lineman in the draft and has big time SEC experience. Although he is more known for his pass block game, it won’t hurt the Giants to draft this guy with all the potential upside in the running game as well.
  • 6th Pick: Carolina Panthers, Evan Neal, Tackle, Alabama
    • The Panthers are an interesting team here because they could draft a quarterback here to fix an obvious need. However, with rumors that they have been in talks of acquiring Baker Mayfield, taking Neal makes sense. Evan Neal is a star who can play both tackle spots and is someone is trust as he is coming from Nick Saban.
  • 7th Pick: New York Giants, Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
    • If you’re a Giants fan, you would have to be elated that Walker is still on the board here. Recently, Walker has becoming the betting favorite to go first overall. In reality, no one knows who is going to go first since there is no consensus number one pick as there has been in prior drafts. Like the offensive line, edge rushing is another area of need for the Giants. Walker is an outstanding rush defender who also is 6’5” and 272 pounds with 4.51 40-time speed. This dude is a freak of an athlete, so any team would be lucky to have him.
  • 8th Pick: Atlanta Falcons, Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Cornerback, Georgia
    • Although other positions are needed more than cornerback, at this spot in the draft you have to take a talent like Sauce if he is available. Some even consider Gardner to be better than Stingley (not me). Regardless, Stingley is already off the board in this mock. As a plus, Gardner is a 6’3” corner who still has top-tier speed and agility. Beyond that, he allowed zero touchdowns in his college career. Look for Atlanta to address the interior offensive line and quarterback later on in the draft.
  • 9th Pick: Seattle Seahawks, Ikem Ekwonu, Tackle, North Carolina State
    • I would be shocked if Ekwonu is available at nine, but if he is expect Seattle to take him. Offensive tackle is a major need for Seattle and with Baker Mayfield/Jimmy Garoppolo (not likely due to him being on a divisional rival) still out there, it is unlikely that they pick a quarterback here. Ekwonu is a top five overall talent who played in a run heavy offense in college. Coming to Seattle, you may see some of the same thing this year as Russell Wilson is gone. That being said, Ekwonu to Seattle would be a good fit.
  • 10th Pick: New York Jets, Garrett Wilson, Wide Receiver, Ohio State
    • Finally, a receiver is off the board. Jameson Williams might just be better than Garrett Wilson, but the ACL injury in the national championship is going to cause him to slip further back than his talent level dictates. The Jets already addressed their need at corner with the 4th pick in Derek Stingley. Their other major needs are linebacker and wide receiver. So, they would have their choice between the two positions here because neither of the two positions have been selected yet. There are rumors that the Jets are trying to sign former Saints LB Kwon Alexander, so taking the best receiver available is the best option. Not to mention that Wilson is outstanding on releasing away from the first defender. Besides, Zach Wilson needs more help, and Garrett Wilson would be an outstanding choice for just that.
  • 11th Pick: Washington Commanders, Devin Lloyd, Linebacker, Utah
    • For this pick, I could see the Commanders going with someone like Drake London who can go snag the ball out of the air with ease. While this would be a great addition and help out Carson Wentz, I think the Commanders will select a receiver like George Pickens as their second-round pick (47). As for Devin Lloyd, he is the best linebacker in the class, and is a huge linebacker who possesses all the skills you could ask for out of a linebacker. Although Washington has a decent defense, they could benefit greatly from adding an outstanding linebacker like Devin Lloyd. As a plus, Ron Rivera is a defensive coach who likely sees Lloyd as a younger Luke Kuechly (who he coached in Carolina).
  • 12th Pick: Minnesota Vikings, Trent McDuffie, Cornerback, Washington
    • Minnesota is typically know as a defensive team, but they have struggled on that side of the ball in the past few season. The Vikings recently resigned Patrick Peterson to a one-year deal, which either alludes to little faith in him or an approaching retirement. Regardless, Minnesota will be down in the cornerback room coming up soon. A veteran like Peterson could take McDuffie under his wing and groom him into an outstanding cornerback.
  • 13th Pick: Houston Texans, George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
    • Houston has needs at pretty much every position, as I’m sure you already know. With their second pick in the top 13, I see them taking Karlaftis to boost their defensive line. You might think that the Texans should pick an offensive lineman or a weapon to help out Davis Mills, but is he really the long-term solution for the Texans? Even if he is, the Texans will and should be able to fix this issue later in the draft. As for Karlaftis, he is an extremely powerful and explosive edge rusher than can immediately make an impact on a team. The only knock on him is that he’s 6’3”, but I don’t see that being an issue for him at the next level given his strengths.
  • 14th Pick: Baltimore Ravens, Jordan Davis, Defensive Lineman, Georgia
    • With this pick, Baltimore would be hitting a home run. If you didn’t know, Jordan Davis is massive and moves even the best offensive lineman in the SEC with ease. To put it into perspective, this man ran a 4.78 forty-yard dash at 6’6” and being 341 pounds. This man is an absolute freak who will plug in nicely to a Ravens defense that needs him desperately.
  • 15th Pick: Philadelphia Eagles, Drake London, Wide Receiver, USC
    • The primary needs for the Eagles are linebacker and defensive back, but they also have a young quarterback in Jalen Hurts that they need to help. While I could see the Eagles going with Jameson Williams, I think that Drake London would fit better in Philadelphia. The reasoning behind that is they already have their deep threat in Devonta Smith, but they need a bigger physical receiver like Drake London. London is outstanding at controlling his body to pull in most passes and runs his routes well enough to be open just about every time.
  • 16th Pick: New Orleans Saints, Jameson Williams, Wide Receiver, Alabama
    • Now, what I want to do with this pick and the 19th is take two wide receivers because I am a fan of the team. I, among most other Saints fans, saw how bad the receivers on the team were last year. This year might be a little different, though, as Michael Thomas will finally be coming back healthy. Just imagine what Jameis could do with Michael Thomas, Jameson Williams, and Chris Olave. That being said, both of those guys are available. However, I don’t think that the Chargers would be able to pass up on a guy like Williams to help out Justin Herbert. So, New Orleans fills a major need at receiver with Williams. He is a true deep threat, which goes perfectly with Jameis Winston’s play style and is the perfect complement to the bigger receiver/get open type guy in Michael Thomas.
  • 17th Pick: Los Angeles Chargers, Trevor Penning, Tackle, Northern Iowa
    • As I just mentioned, I could see the Chargers taking Jameson Williams here if he is available. Since he is not, taking Penning at 17 could turn out to be a steal. Los Angeles has a young star on the rise in Justin Herbert, and they need to protect him. With Penning, the Chargers are getting a guy who plays the position angry and has a massive stature. When you watch his tape, you see a guy that moves much quicker than a guy who is 6’7” and 325 pounds. Not only that, but his strength would allow him to fit into every NFL offense and make an immediate impact in both the passing and rushing games.
  • 18th Pick: Philadelphia Eagles, Nakobe Dean, Linebacker, Georgia
    • If Nakobe Dean is available at 18, that would be an absolute steal and a pretty good fit for the Philadelphia Eagles. Dean was one of the best linebackers in the country last year, if not the best for the best team in the country. He almost never misses a tackle in space or in between the tackles. Not only that, he has outstanding instincts in the passing game. For the Dawgs, Dean called the defensive plays and communicated the defensive shifts. If he can translate what Georgia was able to do on defense to Philadelphia, the Eagles have themselves a superstar.
  • 19th Pick: New Orleans Saints, Chris Olave, Wide Receiver, Ohio State
    • I would be willing to bet a large amount of money that the Saints don’t take two receivers in the first round. Take it from me, though, that this is what they need to do with these two picks to be successful. Although I would like the pick of Trevor Penning (already drafted) or Bernhard Raimann here, I think the Saints would be better off taking the top tier receivers here. There are still plenty of good tackles out there for the Saints to take later in the draft. As for Chris Olave, he is yet another deep threat that New Orleans would greatly appreciate. He is an extremely fast and also outstanding route runner. There is no doubt that he would be a good addition to this struggling offense.
  • 20th Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers, Malik Willis, Quarterback, Liberty
    • This pick just makes sense. Malik Willis and Coach Tomlin seem to have a bromance going. Ben Roethlisberger just retired, and I don’t think Mike Tomlin would be too happy to roll with Mason Rudolph this year. Willis is a huge, strong-armed quarterback who would easily be an upgrade and a good fit for the yellow and black.
  • 21st Pick: New England Patriots, Treylon Burks, Wide Receiver, Arkansas
    • At the 21st pick, I believe that Burks would be a steal. If not for a loaded WR class, he might go somewhere near the top ten. Regardless, New England needs weapons desperately for Mac Jones to work with. Arkansas tried to get the ball to Burks as much as possible. Most of the time, he was able to make a big play. He catches the ball with ease and is not an easy guy to tackle. Not only does Burks have amazing skill at receiver, but he also is a returner in both the punting and kick return game. This would be a great fit for Burks as Bill Belichick hasn’t had a good receiver in a long time with this kind of versatility.
  • 22nd Pick: Green Bay Packers, Skyy Moore, Wide Receiver, Western Michigan
    • If it weren’t for the Patriots taking Treylon Burks, he would have gone off the board right here. As we all know, Devante Adams is no longer with the Packers and Aaron Rodgers just re-signed with Green Bay for a massive contract. He has won the MVP two years in a row, but his age is getting up there. You don’t know how much longer he will be with you, much less how long he will still be an elite quarterback. That being said, the selection of Skyy Moore here would not be a bad idea. Although he may have more value at a slightly later selection, the Packers need to get Rodgers some receivers. Moore is extremely fast with 4.4 speed and is useful in all areas of the passing game. Not only that, he also is a decent blocker in the running game. I’m sure Aaron Rodgers would be elated to have a guy like this on the team.
  • 23rd Pick: Arizona Cardinals, Tyler Linderbaum, Center, Iowa
    • There is no question that the Cardinals need help on the offensive line. If you don’t believe me, go watch their playoff loss against the Rams. The Rams were able to do whatever they wanted to the Cardinal offensive line. That is bad, but what makes it worse is that they play each other twice a year. Protecting Kyler Murray is paramount for the success of the Cardinals, and Linderbaum would be a huge step towards that. He is an outstanding center as he scored the highest grade for a center among college centers two years in a row. Another nugget about him is that he only allowed three, yes three, total pressures all of 2020. No question, Linderbaum would be a perfect plug and play guy for Arizona.
  • 24th Pick: Dallas Cowboys, Devonte Wyatt, Defensive Lineman, Georgia
    • If not for Arizona taking Tyler Linderbaum, he would be the easy choice. Wyatt is fantastic at moving offensive line backwards off the snap and has the innate ability to get past defenders using his above average speed and size. Dallas does have an improving defense, but they still need work on the defensive line. Taking Wyatt here would not only fill a need, but it will also make it easier for a guy like Micah Parsons to get into the backfield.
  • 25th Pick: Buffalo Bills, Travis Jones, Defensive Line, Connecticut
    • The two major needs for the Bills are receiver and defensive line. Overall, they are already a solid time with a top-tier defense. However, with their being less depth at defensive line versus receiver, I have the Bills going with Jones. Travis Jones one of, if not the best, true nose guard in the draft. He is outstanding at taking control of the block and has a strong base that will be extremely useful for plugging holes in a loaded AFC.
  • 26th Pick: Tennessee Titans, Zion Johnson, Guard, Boston College
    • The Titans also have a major need at wide receiver, but in this draft I see them waiting until their second pick (90) to see if a guy like John Metchie will fall to them. Zion Johnson is the ideal size for a guard at 6’2” and 314 pounds. His biggest strength comes in the run game, but he is also very technical in his pass protection. This is a match made in Heaven because the Titans are a run-heavy team with Derrick Henry and they could use interior offensive line help to support a play-action passing game from Ryan Tannehill.
  • 27th Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kenyon Green, Guard, Texas A&M
    • This team doesn’t really have too many holes, but the area where they need help is the interior trenches on both sides of the ball. That’s being picky, but still that is where this pick comes in. Kenyon Green is best suited to be a guard as he was in a run-heavy offense in college. He has also played every position on the offensive line except for center in college. The main setback about him is some concern about his footwork, but overall he is a solid player that will fit well into Tampa’s offensive scheme.
  • 28th Pick: Green Bay Packers, Bernhard Raimann, Tackle, Central Michigan
    • Green Bay already addressed wide receiver at their 22nd pick, but it is still of the upmost importance to help Aaron Rodgers as he is basically the whole team. The Austrian has a limited experience with the game of football as he just started playing a few years ago. However, don’t let that cloud your judgement of how talented this young man is. He has surprisingly good body control for a tackle of his stature (6’6”, 303 pounds). Raimann tends to stay on blocks as long as possible, so that will be useful for Aaron Rodgers to have a guy like him on the other side of the line of David Bakhtiari.
  • 29th Pick: Kansas City Chiefs, Andrew Booth Jr, Cornerback, Clemson
    • This is the first of two picks in a row for the Chiefs, and with this pick they fill a big need at cornerback. Booth is outstanding in both man and zone coverage techniques. He has sneaky quick speed and will be great at lurking passes in both the short and long passing game at the next level.
  • 30th Pick: Kansas City Chiefs, George Pickens, Wide Receiver, Georgia
    • Pickens is a dynamic receiver who made a huge difference for the Dawgs in both the short and long passing game. He is a big-bodied receiver who has no issue with going up with the best corners and taking the ball from them. With Tyreek Hill getting traded to Miami, look for the Chiefs to find his replacement in the first round or so of this draft.
  • 31st Pick: Cincinnati Bengals, Tyler Smith, Tackle, Tulsa
    • If you watched the Bengals in the Super Bowl, or even at all before then, you would know that the offensive line is by far the most glaring issue with this team. Joe Burrow has already suffered a major leg injury in his rookie year, and he was sacked numerous times this season. Although the Bengals have a more serious need at the interior spot of their line, picking the next best guy would be too much of a reach and is something that can be addressed later in the draft. Furthermore, Smith could be moved to guard or even center due to his massive frame (6’4”, 324 pounds). When he gets his hands on a defensive lineman, the rep is basically over because core strength is too much to be moved. So, I’m sure Joe Burrow and company would be happy with this pick.
  • 32nd Pick, Detroit Lions, Kaiir Elam, Cornerback, Florida
    • There’s really not too much good you could say about the Lions. Last offseason, they traded away their franchise quarterback. In exchange, one of the picks was the Rams’ first choice this draft. Since the Rams went on the win the Super Bowl, it was a double whammy to see your franchise quarterback leave and win a Super Bowl in his first season away from you after 12 years. Not only that, the result of the Rams winning the Super Bowl was that their first-round choice is at the very end of the round. With this selection, the Lions are filling yet another need at the cornerback position. Pairing Elam alongside Jeff Okudah will likely prove to be a great combo someday. Elam was an outstanding corner for the Gators, and I expect that to translate into the NFL. He is extremely skilled at being physical with receivers. Elam is not afraid to hit someone hard, which is to be expected from a Gator. He works best in the passing game as most receivers can’t handle his physicality.
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