By: Sam Fretto
The NFL Draft is a few hours away and for just about every NFL fan it is like Christmas Day. The draft can leave fans excited for their future, devastated, or ready to get the NFL season going. The Carolina Panthers traded a king’s ransom to the Chicago Bears to be on the clock as they hold the number 1 overall pick.
Carolina Panthers Pick 1: Bryce Young QB Alabama
When the Carolina Panthers traded for the number 1 overall pick, it wasn’t very obvious who they were going to pick. Many said that CJ Stroud would be a perfect fit for the scheme they have in Carolina. Although, recently it has been reported that Bryce Young has blown away the organization and he is now the consensus first pick.
Houston Texans Pick 2: Will Anderson EDGE Alabama
The Houston Texans were a 4th and 15 Hail Mary and 2-point conversion failure from holding the number 1 overall pick. However, thanks to the Colts allowing the Texans to get both, the Chicago Bears ended up with the 1st pick, which they traded out of. The Texans absolutely loved Bryce Young and even attempted to trade up to 1 but were unsuccessful. As of late, there were a lot of questions, would they go defense?
The Texans are bad enough that they will be in the running for Caleb Williams next season. Therefore, they are going to try and build a team around Caleb Williams before they have the chance to draft him. Will Anderson is a top 3 talent in this draft and the best edge in this draft. Edge is one of the most important positions in football, while some think they should go QB, this is a fine pick.
TRADE Las Vegas Raiders Pick 3: CJ Stroud QB Ohio State
The Arizona Cardinals are the team that currently holds the 3rd overall pick, but I predict a trade will happen here. The Raiders are in need of a new franchise QB after moving on from QB Derek Carr. The Raiders did sign Jimmy Garappolo to a 3-year, $73 million deal last offseason, but the structure of the contract is made in a way that they can move on after 1 year. This means the Raiders aren’t completely out of the competition for a QB.
CJ Stroud makes sense here, he is the general consensus QB2 of this draft and is a great prospect. He may need a year to sit and having Jimmy Garappolo be a mentor for a year wouldn’t hurt Stroud.
Indianapolis Colts Pick 4: Will Levis QB Kentucky
The Indianapolis Colts have been searching for a franchise QB since the sudden retirement of Andrew Luck in the last preseason game of the 2019 season. Will Levis is a guy that is not a finished project at all but they have been linked to him quite a bit throughout the draft process. Levis has a very strong arm with some accuracy and mechanical concerns. If Levis figures those issues out and fixes them, he can be a very good NFL QB.
Seattle Seahawks Pick 5: Jalen Carter DT Georgia
The Seattle Seahawks need interior defensive line help very badly. They were very bad against the run last season. Jalen Carter is an arguable top 2 talent in this draft class. Getting him at 5 is an absolute steal and he will not fall further than 5.
Detroit Lions Pick 6: Devon Witherspoon CB Illinois
The Detroit Lions have a few options here, they could build up their offensive line even more, adding Paris Johnson Jr or even Peter Skoronski. They could take a top 3 talent in this draft, Jalen Carter, and ignore the red flags.
However, I think they select Devon Witherspoon here. Witherspoon is a top 5 talent in this draft class and with CB becoming a much more important position in the NFL, this would be a great pick here at 6.
TRADE Arizona Cardinals Pick 7: Paris Johnson Jr T Ohio State
The Arizona Cardinals trade back to 7 to take the best tackle off the board. Kyler Murray has recently made it known to the organization that he loves Paris Johnson Jr. He will be available at 7 and if you want to make your franchise QB happy, this is the pick you make.
TRADE Tennessee Titans Pick 8: Anthony Richardson QB Florida
The NFL combine made Anthony Richardson a lot of money as he likely moved himself to be at the very least a top-10 pick. Richardson may fall down boards a bit, due to some of the hype dying down but Richardson is a once-in-a-blue-moon QB prospect. This spot makes sense for the Titans to trade up for a QB with a rebuild on the horizon for the Titans, they have a chance to move up 5 spots and potentially get their franchise QB.
In the combine, Anthony Richardson ran a 4.43 40-yard dash, a 1.53 10-second split, a 40.5” vertical jump, and a 10’ 9” broad jump. Overall this gave him a 99 Athleticism Score, which is a historic score.
TRADE New England Patriots Pick 9: Tyree Wilson EDGE Texas Tech
The New England Patriots have certainly seen better days and things don’t necessarily seem to be looking up as the division got a whole lot tougher with the addition of Aaron Rodgers. The Patriots are still a few years away from contending but they will trade up and add an edge here and improve that pass rush. Tyree Wilson is a lock to be a top 10 pick. Wilson is a monster at 6’6” 271 LBS, he can overpower anyone.
Philadelphia Eagles Pick 10: Peter Skoronski T Northwestern
Peter Skoronski out of Northwestern is the best offensive lineman prospect in this draft. His major downfall is his shorter arms and that will drop him down some boards. If he had average-sized arms for a tackle he would be a top 5 pick, but the question if he can play tackle is what keeps him from being taken sooner.
A team like the Eagles will find a place for him and this is a home-run pick for a team that went to the Super Bowl just last year. Their offensive line is getting older with guys like Jason Kelce, Skoronski can be the next in line.
TRADE Atlanta Falcons Pick 11: Bijan Robinson RB Texas
I am not a person that likes taking running backs in the first round, let alone this early, however, it is undeniable the talent a guy like Bijan Robinson has. The Atlanta Falcons will be having 2nd year QB Desmond Ridder lead their team headed into the 2023 campaign. They know this and are going to want to put the best playmakers around him possible. You have Drake London and Kyle Pitts as your two best playmakers, who at their best will be elite. You throw in Bijan and that offense can be lethal.
Houston Texans Pick 12: Christian Gonzalez CB Oregon
The Houston Texans decided to pass on taking a QB in this draft in an attempt to be bad enough to draft Caleb Williams next year and they will take the best player available. They could theoretically go WR here but the top-end talent of this corner class is much better, and they could go WR with a day 2 pick.
Green Bay Packers Pick 13: Jaxon Smith-Njigba WR Ohio State
The Green Bay Packers just traded away Aaron Rodgers to the New York Jets and they will now do something they didn’t do a single time when Aaron Rodgers played for them, draft a weapon in the first round. Jaxon Smith-Njigba is the best WR of this draft class and it isn’t very close. A duo with him and Christian Watson will be a sight for years to come with Watson’s deep-threat ability and JSN’s ability to do just about anything over the middle of the field.
TRADE Chicago Bears Pick 14: Darnell Wright T Tennessee
It has been rumored that the Bears don’t want to pick at 9 if Jalen Carter isn’t there, and he got picked at 5 by the Seahawks so it makes sense the Bears want to trade out.
The Chicago Bears are in desperate need of an offensive tackle in this NFL draft. They could go the route of Peter Skoronski, but the big concern there is his arm-length. The Bears need a guy that they can be 100% confident in that he will be a tackle and Darnell Wright is that guy. Wright comes from the SEC and has seen a lot of good pass rushers, including Will Anderson who he handled very well. The Bears may not be getting the best value at 14 taking Wright but he fits.
New York Jets Pick 15: Broderick Jones T Georgia
The New York Jets are in need of offensive linemen. On paper, they have 3 very solid starters although health has been a major concern for them. They will go with the best tackle available on the board here by taking Broderick Jones.
Washington Commanders Pick 16: Myles Murphy EDGE Clemson
The Washington Commanders are a team that seemingly may be a QB away. I believe they are a bit more than that, but this pick here is a very good value pick. Chase Young was taken 2nd overall just 3 seasons ago and since his rookie year, he has been a very big disappointment. Since his rookie year, he has only played 12 games and his stats haven’t been anything special. They have until May 2nd to pick up his 5th-year option but it doesn’t seem likely they will.
Murphy is a very big guy standing at 6’5” and 258 LBS, and he is very powerful. If unlocked to his full potential he will be a force to be reckoned with along with Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen, and Montez Sweat.
Pittsburgh Steelers Pick 17: Joey Porter Jr CB Penn State
Improving a secondary that gave up a lot of passing yards and their fair share of touchdowns but also making a lot of plays on the ball means they need a guy that can press WRs. Joey Porter can do that at a very good level. He allowed 68 yards on 106 snaps in press coverage.
Detroit Lions Pick 18: Calijah Kancey DT Pitt
The Detroit Lions’ run defense was abysmal last season, giving up 5.2 rushing yards per attempt. The Lions had a very good offense last year and improved their secondary with their first pick, now they are getting an interior defensive lineman.
Kancey is a 3 technique and will be a huge stopgap there in the middle of the line, he will greatly improve that rush defense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pick 19: Anton Harrison T Oklahoma
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to be going through some sweeping changes. Since winning the Super Bowl in the 2020 season, Tom Brady is retired and the team is much older. They have Tristan Wirfs at left tackle, they now need a right tackle. Anton Harrison is the best tackle available on the board.
Seattle Seahawks Pick 20: Nolan Smith EDGE Georgia
Earlier in the round Seattle attacked their rush defense problems with Jalen Carter, now they go out and draft teammate Nolan Smith. Smith is not a huge guy but he is very quick and will certainly help the rest of the defensive line get more sack opportunities.
Los Angeles Chargers Pick 21: Jordan Addison WR USC
The Chargers are in need of a WR due to Keenan Allen getting up there in age and not being available as often as he should be. They have Mike Williams who is an excellent receiver but like Allen, he has health concerns. Jordan Addison is the best WR available in this slot. He is an excellent route runner much like Keenan Allen and he can be a number 2 receiver right away for the Chargers.
Baltimore Ravens Pick 22: Deonte Banks CB Maryland
The Baltimore Ravens gave up the 7th most passing yards per game and not forcing too many turnovers they need a new corner. Deonte Banks won’t make a ton of plays but he can stick with receivers and lower the passing yards given up.
Minnesota Vikings Pick 23: Quentin Johnston WR TCU
The Minnesota Vikings WR core is held up by Justin Jefferson. He is one of one and may be the best WR in the NFL. However, that is not enough for the Vikings, they need someone that can go vertical and allow Justin Jefferson to use the entire field. This is where they go Quentin Johnston who is the best X Receiver that you are gonna get in this draft.
Jacksonville Jaguars Pick 24: Brian Branch S Alabama
The Jacksonville Jaguars gave up the 10th most air yards in the league. Branch is one of the smartest players in this draft and will certainly make some nice plays back there in the secondary playing safety, and limiting those deep balls the Jaguars are susceptible to giving up.
New York Giants Pick 25: O’Cyrus Torrence G Florida
The New York Giants need interior offensive linemen. O’Cyrus Torrence is the best interior lineman on the board if we classify Skoronski as a tackle. At 6’5” and 330 LBS, he can overpower opposing linemen with ease. This will help the run game and open up even more running lanes for Saquon Barkley and will undoubtedly improve the offense.
Dallas Cowboys Pick 26: Michael Mayer TE Notre Dame
With the departure of Dalton Schultz, the Dallas Cowboys now have a need for a tight end. Michael Mayer out of Notre Dame is the most well-rounded tight end of this draft class. He is a very good blocker but he can also receive. Having a dual-threat tight end in this Cowboys offense can take it to another level.
Buffalo Bills Pick 27: Lukas Van Ness EDGE Iowa
Lukas Van Ness is a guy who will be a work in progress. He has one really good move, which is the bull rush. He needs time to develop more moves, and who better to learn from than future Hall of Famer Von Miller? Van Ness in the meantime can fill many spots on the defensive line for the Bills.
Cincinnati Bengals Pick 28: Dalton Kincaid TE Utah
Hayden Hurst is gone and during his time there, he proved that having a receiving threat at TE really opened up the already dangerous Bengals’ offense. The best receiving TE of this draft is Dalton Kincaid. Michael Mayer is a good receiver, Dalton Kincaid is a great receiver.
New Orleans Saints Pick 29: Hendon Hooker QB Tennessee
The New Orleans Saints are in a very odd situation. They signed Derek Carr to a 4 year $150 million deal just a year after going 7-10. They haven’t been serious contenders for a couple of years but they feel they can compete with Carr. However, that doesn’t take them out of the running from drafting a guy like Hooker here late in the first round. Hooker lit the world on fire in college football and likely would have gotten Tennessee to the College Football Playoffs had he not torn his ACL. They may see a QB that can sit on the bench and develop while they let Carr direct their franchise over the next couple of years.
Philadelphia Eagles Pick 30: Will McDonald EDGE Iowa State
The Philadelphia Eagles’ strategy should be very simple. Take the best player available. At this point, it is Will McDonald who is a good speed rusher. He can provide valuable snaps for a team that lost in the Super Bowl thanks to not getting any pressure on Patrick Mahomes all game long.
Kansas City Chiefs Pick 31: Zay Flowers WR Boston College
The Kansas City Chiefs can never have too many weapons for Patrick Mahomes to play with and a guy like Zay Flowers, who is a moveable weapon could be so dangerous in the Chiefs offense. He is very quick and in open space can score at any point. I’m not saying he is Tyreek Hill, but he can be used like he was with the Chiefs.
The Miami Dolphins had to forfeit their first-round pick due to tampering with Tom Brady, so there are only 31 picks in the first round. I’m no wizard, but I’m confident that I’ll be 31 for 31 with my predictions.