NFL mock draft: Pass rushers and offensive tackles rule the top 10

It’s a different sort of NFL draft. Eight teams (the Lions, Texans, Jets, Giants, Eagles, Saints, Packers and Chiefs) have two first-round picks apiece. Eight teams (the Broncos, Raiders, Dolphins, Browns, 49ers, Bears, Colts and Rams) have no first-rounders. And it won’t be a quarterback-centric draft for a change. Pass rushers, offensive tackles and wide receivers should dominate the opening round.

But don’t forget entirely about the quarterbacks. A few teams remain needy at that spot, and no one should be surprised when quarterbacks come off the board sooner than projected. Here’s an early look at how the first round could unfold, barring the draft-night trades that undoubtedly will make everything messier than expected.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

The Jaguars have plenty of needs but, after franchise-tagging offensive tackle Cam Robinson, they probably will go with a pass rusher, probably Hutchinson or Travon Walker.

2. Detroit Lions: Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia

It’s too early for a quarterback to come off the board in this draft class. The Lions actually have assembled a relatively promising offensive line, so they go with whichever leading pass rusher is not taken by the Jaguars. In this scenario, that’s Walker.

3. Houston Texans: Evan Neal, T, Alabama

The Texans have Laremy Tunsil at left tackle for now. But Neal could begin his career at guard or right tackle and then transition to left tackle at some point.

4. New York Jets: Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

The draft’s top non-pass-rushing defender comes off the board early.

5. New York Giants: Ikem “Ickey” Ekwonu, T, North Carolina State

The Giants seem likely to emerge with an offensive tackle and a pass rusher with their two early picks. The order is unclear.

6. Carolina Panthers: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

The Panthers tried but failed to trade for Deshaun Watson. The fact that they have Sam Darnold under contract is little consolidation. There might not be any quarterbacks in this draft legitimately worthy of the No. 6 pick. But unless they want to trade for Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo, the Panthers need to get someone. Malik Willis also could be an option.

7. New York Giants: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

The Giants come back to get their pass rusher after first adding their offensive tackle.

8. Atlanta Falcons: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

It’s a new era in Atlanta after the trade of Matt Ryan to the Colts. Marcus Mariota was signed as a seat-warming veteran. That’s obviously not the long-term solution. Willis is an intriguing option.

9. Seattle Seahawks: Charles Cross, T, Mississippi State

The Seahawks make it three offensive tackles in the top 10. They still don’t have a clear-cut starter at quarterback following the Russell Wilson trade. But they fortify their offensive line to benefit whichever quarterback emerges as the starter.

10. New York Jets: Ohio State Garrett Wilson, WR

The run on wide receivers will probably begin here as the Jets get their choice of wideouts following their failed bid to trade for Tyreek Hill.

11. Washington Commanders: Drake London, WR, USC

The Commanders add a receiving complement to Terry McLaurin to benefit new quarterback Carson Wentz.

12. Minnesota Vikings: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

There are injury concerns with Stingley. But he is a major talent and could be a standout cornerback if he’s able to remain healthy.

13. Houston Texans: Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State

If the Texans don’t take a pass rusher at No. 3, it makes sense for them to get one here. Johnson is a top-10 talent who would be a good value at this spot.

14. Baltimore Ravens: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

The Ravens get a pass rusher who fits in well with what they do. Their other option here would be to bolster the offensive line.

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

The Eagles fortify their defensive front with the first of their two opening-round picks. They re-signed defensive tackle Fletcher Cox but only to a one-year deal.

16. New Orleans Saints: Matt Corral, QB, Mississippi

The Saints are interesting. Their pre-draft, picks-for-picks trade with the Eagles left some wondering if they’re aimed to move up to get a quarterback. Are they enamored with Malik Willis’s talent? They did re-sign Jameis Winston after failing to trade for Deshaun Watson. But it seems fair to believe they will emerge from the opening round with a quarterback, whether by trading up or not.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Trevor Penning, T, Northern Iowa

The AFC West is overflowing with great quarterbacks and great pass rushers. The Chargers take a step to protect their great quarterback, Justin Herbert, from all those opposing pass rushers.

18. Philadelphia Eagles: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

The Eagles devote another pick to their defense and get the draft’s top safety.

19. New Orleans Saints: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

If the Saints don’t package their two picks to trade up, it might be sensible to address wide receiver or offensive tackle. Williams is a good value at this point because his ability is unquestioned. The main issue is that the team that selects him might have to exercise some patience as he works his way back from the knee injury he suffered in the College Football Playoff championship game.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati

The Steelers signed Mitchell Trubisky to take over for the retired Ben Roethlisberger. But they need to do more, and taking Ridder would allow him to watch and learn for a year or two.

21. New England Patriots: Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M

The Patriots could plug in Green as an immediate starter on their offensive line and keep trying to use their rugged running game to aid the development of Mac Jones as a second-year quarterback.

22. Green Bay Packers: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

There’s something terribly wrong if the Packers don’t help out Aaron Rodgers by using one of their first-rounders on a wide receiver following the trade of Davante Adams to the Raiders. Their only better alternative would be to use their new draft-pick resources to trade for, say, Seattle’s DK Metcalf.

23. Arizona Cardinals: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

As long as the issues with Kyler Murray’s contract are not significant enough to dictate that the Cardinals must make a move at quarterback, McDuffie represents a good value at this point and upgrades the Arizona secondary.

24. Dallas Cowboys: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

The Cowboys need to do something to help quarterback Dak Prescott here, either with an offensive lineman or a wide receiver. Taking Olave would be a suitable move after their trade of wideout Amari Cooper to the Browns.

25. Buffalo Bills: Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia

The Bills have few weaknesses, but it’s tough to forget that windy night in Orchard Park, NY, late last season when they allowed the Patriots to overpower them with the running game.

26. Tennessee Titans: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

It will be interesting to see if the Titans consider a quarterback or a wide receiver. If not, adding Dean to the defense would be a solid move.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota

Todd Bowles was promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach, and the Bucs add the sort of aggressive pass rusher who helped Bowles’s defense take them to a Super Bowl title in the 2020 season.

28. Green Bay Packers: Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

As long as the Packers have addressed wide receiver by this point, they’re perfectly welcome to add to their defense here.

29. Kansas City Chiefs: Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State

The Chiefs signed JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling in free agency. But they have more work to do at wide receiver after trading Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins.

30. Kansas City Chiefs: Daxton Hill, S/CB, Michigan

Kansas City uses the second of its back-to-back picks on a versatile addition to its secondary after opting against re-signing Tyrann Mathieu.

31. Cincinnati Bengals: Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa

After their Super Bowl defeat, the Bengals wisely focused in free agency on reconstructing quarterback Joe Burrow’s offensive line. Ted Karras was among the additions. He could play center, but he’s also versatile enough to shift to guard if the Bengals add the top center in the draft.

32. Detroit Lions: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

The Lions get secondary help with the pick that came from the Los Angeles Rams in the Matthew Stafford trade.

On the cusp: Bernhard Raimann, T, Central Michigan; Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina; David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan; Andrew Booth, CB, Clemson; Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan; Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington; Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State; Zion Johnson, G, Boston College; Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn; Lewis Cine, S, Georgia; Travis Jones, DT, Connecticut; Tyler Smith, T, Tulsa

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