- Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
The consensus number one pick, and with good reason. Burrow threw 60 touchdowns, won the Heisman and a national championship in arguably the greatest season we’ve ever seen from a college quarterback. He’s not a perfect prospect – the ‘one year wonder’ concerns are real and he lacks elite physical traits and athleticism, but I’d take the pinpoint accurate passer and proven winner over the toolsy guy with no production any day. It will be a big, big shock if the Bengals use this pick on anyone other than Burrow.
- Washington Redskins – Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
The Redskins really shouldn’t overthink this pick. It might be tempting to trade down with one of the quarterback needy teams who could jump up and get their passer of choice (outside of Burrow) but doing so would likely involve Washington losing their shot to draft Young – the best player in this draft class. He’s a special player capable of wreaking havoc in opponent’s backfields for a decade or more – just take him and move on.
- Los Angeles Chargers (TRADE) – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
For the Lions, trading out of this pick makes too much sense. Here, they move down to 6 in the hopes that they can still land the prospect they covet, knowing the Chargers and Dolphins are likely to go quarterback. The Chargers grab their QB of the future in Tagovailoa who, were it not for health concerns, would likely be eating into Burrow’s consensus as the number one pick. A mobile, accurate passer, Tua jumps into an ideal situation in LA where he can sit behind Tyrod Taylor until he’s fully healthy. There’s no two ways about it, this pick is a risk, but ultimately Tua’s upside is too tantalising to pass up.
- New York Giants – Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson
There’s a lot of speculation that the Giants will go offensive line with this pick, but Simmons is the best player available and this is a team riddled with needs on both sides of the ball. A freak of nature whose versatility is perfect for the modern NFL, Simmons would be a lynch pin of the defence for years to come.
- Miami Dolphins – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
I hate this pick, but it’s what I think Miami will do. With their pick of the offensive tackle class, I think the Dolphins would be wiser to go in that direction, but the talk is that they like Herbert over Tua so grabbing him at five would make sense. Herbert is a tall passer with a big arm and all the tools that NFL scouts look for in a quarterback prospect, but he struggles with decision making and accuracy. This pick has bust written all over it.
- Detroit Lions (TRADE) – Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
The Lions are the big winners of this mock so far, trading down and still getting the player they wanted. Okudah is an elite cornerback prospect and will immediately fill the hole left by Darius Slay’s departure for Philadelphia.
- Carolina Panthers – Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
The Panthers could take a tackle here, but they go with Brown to solidify their defensive line for years to come. Brown is the best interior defensive lineman in this class, possessing versatility that will pair well with Kawann Short.
- Arizona Cardinals – Tristan Wirfs, T, Iowa
The Cardinals will be thrilled if the first seven picks play out like this, leaving them with their pick of the offensive linemen. Honestly, which tackle prospect comes off the board first is anyone’s guess, but Wirfs is one of the cream of the crop and there’s reports out there that Arizona really likes him.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – Jedrick Wills, T, Alabama
The Jags are another team with a lot of needs and whilst they could look to upgrade the defence, I think securing one of the best tackle prospects makes more sense. Wills is a day one starter, potentially on the right or left side of the offensive line.
- Cleveland Browns – Andrew Thomas, T, Georgia
The run on tackles continues. The Browns are really giving Baker Mayfield no excuses with this pick, grabbing the offensive lineman with the highest floor in the draft class. Thomas will start right away at left tackle, pairing with free agent addition Jack Conklin on the right side.
- New York Jets – Mekhi Becton, T, Louisville
So four tackles come off the board in a row, which may leave some teams scrambling. Becton’s failed drug test might drop him to the bottom of the elite group of tackles, but reports suggest it’s unlikely to drop him too far down the pecking order. He’s still a physical beast and might have the biggest upside of any of the offensive linemen.
- Las Vegas Raiders – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
The Raiders could go with any of the top three receivers here, or upgrade their defensive line, but Jeudy is my number one receiver. I’m sure the Raiders would love the speed of Henry Ruggs III or the size and catchpoint skills of CeeDee Lamb, but Jeudy gives them a midpoint of the two.
- San Francisco 49ers – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
CeeDee Lamb playing for Kyle Shanahan is a scary prospect. Jimmy Garoppolo gets anther weapon, and if this pick happens I really would expect Lamb to be a Rookie of the Year contender.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
Whilst the Bucs would love to go tackle with this pick to protect Tom Brady, in this mock the run on tackles means that they can get better value by going to the defensive side of the ball. Kinlaw provides them with some high-level interior pass rushing.
- Denver Broncos – Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Multiple media outlets are reporting that Ruggs will not fall past the Broncos at 15. His blazing speed makes him an intriguing prospect, and I considered a receiver-needy team leapfrogging Denver and trading up for him, but with the Bucs staying pat the Broncos get their man.
- Atlanta Falcons – CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
Henderson is the clear number two corner in this class and provides the Falcons with an instant replacement for Desmond Trufant. They need secondary help.
- Dallas Cowboys – K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
Chaisson lacked major college production but has huge upside. He’d fit well opposite Demarcus Lawrence on the Dallas defensive line and whilst it might take him a little while to get it going at the NFL level, he could be a superstar if the Cowboys can get the most out of him.
- Miami Dolphins – Joshua Jones, T, Houston
After grabbing their quarterback of the future with the fifth overall pick, the Dolphins absolutely have to address the offensive line later in the first round. There’s not a lot between Jones and Austin Jackson, but Jones was more consistent.
- Las Vegas Raiders – Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Linebacker isn’t the Raiders’ biggest need, but Murray just seems to be a perfect fit in Las Vegas. The Raiders love prospects from blue chip programmes who are proven leaders, and Murray is exactly that.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa
Jacksonville could easily go with Justin Jefferson here, but they need a replacement for Calais Campbell and Epenesa can step right into his vacant position. He’s a great scheme fit.
- Philadelphia Eagles – Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
Most people think this pick will be a receiver, but the Eagles are reportedly higher on their own receiving core than most analysts are and they are thin at linebacker. Queen’s stock has been rising in recent weeks and whilst passing on his LSU teammate Jefferson would be a big call, I think the Eagles may well pull the trigger.
- Minnesota Vikings – Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
Jefferson is not the best fit in Minnesota, but if he falls to them I believe the Vikings will be thrilled. His skillset is similar to that of Adam Thielen, but he’d also be the number one receiver in most normal draft classes. After trading away Stefon Diggs, the Vikings come away with an elite prospect to replace him.
- New England Patriots – Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
I think New England is committed to Jarett Stidham at quarterback, at least enough to hold off on drafting one in the first round. McKinney fits the Belichick model of defender – smart and physical.
- New Orleans Saints – Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
The Saints could go several different routes here, but they seem so committed to Taysom Hill that I don’t think they’ll take Jordan Love at quarterback. They could use some wideout help alongside Michael Thomas and the newly acquired Emmanuel Sanders. This is a historically deep receiver class and there are concerns about Higgins’ speed, but his college production speaks for itself.
- Minnesota Vikings – Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
Cornerback is Minnesota’s biggest need and, in this mock, none of the second tier of corners has come off the board, so they get their choice. Gladney is undersized but plays with the fiery aggression that Mike Zimmer craves.
- Miami Dolphins – D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
Jordan Howard is not the answer at running back in Miami. Swift is my number one back in this year’s class and could be a real difference maker in year one.
- Seattle Seahawks – Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
The Seahawks need an edge rusher having lost Jadeveon Clowney. Gross-Matos has enormous upside and would be good value here.
- Baltimore Ravens – Zach Baun, LB, Wisconsin
The Ravens don’t have many needs, so they can draft to fill their biggest one here. Baun might be a bit of a reach at 28th overall, but with the roster that Baltimore has assembled it’s a reach they can afford to make.
- Tennessee Titans – Austin Jackson, T, USC
Tennessee lost Jack Conklin to Cleveland in free agency and already had a need on the interior of their offensive line. Jackson could fill either and represents good value at this point in the draft.
- Indianapolis Colts (TRADE) – Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Assuming the Packers don’t see Jordan Love as the long-term successor to Aaron Rodgers, I can see them trading out of this pick. Whilst I don’t believe the Colts are massively in on Love (if they were they wouldn’t have dealt the 13th pick to San Francisco) if he slips this far they could seize the opportunity to jump up a few spots and draft him. He could sit behind Philip Rivers for a year and iron out some of the decision-making shortcomings in his game.
- San Francisco 49ers – Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU
The Niners get their replacement for DeForest Buckner, who they dealt to the Colts for the 13th pick. Coming away from that deal with Blacklock and Lamb would be a good outcome for San Francisco and leave them retooled for another Super Bowl run.
- Kansas City Chiefs – A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
I think the Chiefs will want to go with a running back here, but with only three corners off the board in the first round so far, I think it will be hard to pass up on one. Terrell is a physical player who could help their pass defence immediately.