Time for an update of my recent MOCK, this version covering Picks 19-27.
We are now thru 2 weeks of post-season games and headed for AFC/NFC Championship games this coming weekend. So that should mean 10 more Picks to get to. But No, because the Dolphins lost their first round pick because of tampering by Owner Stephen Ross. Nice work, boss… NOT! So here we go with the next 9 Picks.
19) BUCCANEERS ISAIAH FOSKEY ER/DE/OB Notre Dame He leaves South Bend as the team’s all-time Sacks leader. But he is a multi-faceted player and will help shore up a sagging Bucs D that could not get the pressure they needed against the Cowboys. The start of some major changes in Tampa.
20) SEA HAWKS DREW SANDERS LB Arkansas With their second first round Pick the team secures an excellent athlete to join JORDYN BROOKS in their LB crew. He can do it all and covers the field with surprising speed. With a plethora of Picks they will likely spread them out around the whole roster.
This where MIAMI should have been.
21) CHARGERS JAXON SMITH-NJIGBA WR Ohio State This may surprise many of you but given the team has an elite young QB named Justin Herbert, they just don’t stretch the field very often. Mike Williams is their top deep threat, but he misses games with frustrating regularity. The real speed guys are gone, but SMITH-NJIGBA isn’t slow.And his run after catch is excellent.
22) RAVENS RASHEE RICE WR SMU Their biggest issue may be at QB, given the contract challenges with LAMAR, but right behind it comes lack of quality wideouts. RICE should fit nicely with healthy receivers BATEMAN & DUVERNAY not to mention quality TE led by MARK ANDREWS.
23) VIKINGS TRENTON SIMPSON LB Clemson An athletic defender who finds he ball on every play. Their Offense can score on anybody, but their Defense is getting long in the tooth in too many places. They need more Defensive Picks from this Draft, but SIMPSON is a good start.
24) JAGUARS KAYSHON BOUTTE WR LSU This is a calculated gamble for the Jags. They have a bunch of guys named JONES in their receiving corps but none of them is a legit No. 1 wideout. BOUTTE seems to have some issues to be vetted from his days at LSU, but talent wise he can become that Receiver 1 for LAWRENCE. A bit of a roll of the dice here.
25) GIANTS JOEY PORTER CB Penn State Their secondary looked better last season, but PORTER would give them a big, physical Corner with NFL bloodlines. They should still be able to grab an upgrade for their WR group in Round 2.
26) COWBOYS JAHMYR GIBBS RB Alabama POLLARD is likely to be gone as a VFA. Or they might find an affordable way to bid adieu to ZEKE. Either way GIBBS is an explosive runner as well as an elite receiver out of the backfield. and affordable as a Rookie for 4-5 years.
27) BILLS JOSH DOWNS WR UNC This team has more needs than you might think. It became clear this past season that the team missed their “slot receiver” BEASLEY, even bringing him back for the Play-Off run, that fizzled out early. DOWNS has the quickness, and hands to fill that role long term for them. Look for them to find an OT and move DAWKINS back inside to OG in their Friday Picks.
That gets us caught up.
The NFL regular season is over, and we are only a couple of days short of the Wild Card weekend games. So I thought I would, for now, ignore the upcoming game action and take a look at projected non-Playoff 2023 Draft selections. Of those 18 Picks, 4 do not belong to their original teams. And two of those 4 are possessed by teams that are in the Play-Offs. This is in most years the NFL’s version of the rich get rich and the poor get poorer. Seattle owns Pick 5, which is from Denver, and Philadelphia owns the Saints Pick at 10.It also means that the LIONS (#6/#18) & TEXANS (#2/#12) are the only teams with 2 Picks in the Top 18.
I would also add that several players have a star (*) beside their name, which means that as I write this they have NOT announced their intention to leave school early for the Draft, at least to the knowledge of the general public.
Let it also be known that these selections are based on my thoughts about what teams need, balanced with my assessment of players available at their Pick.
- BEARS WILL ANDERSON/OB/ER Alabama Despite silly talk from GM POLES, this team needs just about everything but another QB. If they stay put they need to rebuild their D which they tore apart last season by trading/cutting loose guys like ROQUAN SMITH, KHALIL MACK, ROBERT QUINN, et al.
- TEXANS BRYCE YOUNG QB Alabama This team needs everything, but QB is the most important single position on any team. So they take a flyer, of sorts, by taking the size outlier whose body looks more like a tennis player than a pro football player. But above the shoulders I’d bet he may have the highest FBI in this Draft class.
- CARDINALS JALEN CARTER DT Georgia Possibly a real crap shoot here because of the exits of their GM & HC. But this team is short of physical talent like this guy. He’s the kind of dominant athlete that retiring JJ WATT was coming into the League.
- COLTS C.J. STROUD* QB Ohio State By sitting and being patient they don’t give up Picks they need later on to move up. They also get a guy who checks all the boxes, including NFL size. He just needs a top level QB Coach, Offensive Coordinator and some OL help.
- SEA HAWKS TYREE WILSON ER/OB/DE Texas Tech Gives the team an athletic defender, who can play multiple roles in their defensive alignment. IMO the real value here may be in realizing that WILSON is more likely to excel in the NFL than the QB named LEVIS. Pirate Pete CARROLL & GM SCHNEIDER will grab the elite athlete here.
- LIONS BIJAN ROBINSON RB Texas CAMPBELL wants to run the ball, and beyond Jamaal Williams he doesn’t have a really productive, physical RB who can stay healthy. And JAMAAL is around that 30-year old RB old age number. Picking again at 18 still gives then another shot at a starter needed elsewhere on their somewhat thin, but improving roster.
- RAIDERS PETER SKORONSKI OG/T Northwestern Their OL turned into a patchwork quilt last season. I think they wanted BIJAN, but they hold their water to get RB hep later on. SKORONSKI is underrated by many because his team literally stunk up the Big 10 last season. They will try him at OT, but if his short arms betray him, he can be a quality starter in their IOL.
- FALCONS MYLES MURPHY DE/E Clemson Their DL was a weak point, particularly out on the ends. MURPHY is not an elite pass-rusher but he will set the edge against the run, and likely give them several QB pressures per game, minimum. Their DL Coach just needs to get him fired up for every game.
- PANTHERS MICHAEL MAYER TE Notre Dame Tremble began to show them something this past season, but MAYER can do more and really will help that run game, which still looked good with the HUBBARD/FOREMAN combo after Chris McC’s exit.
- EAGLES CHRIS GONZALEZ CB Oregon They have gotten by well overall this season with what they have, but CB is so important in today’s NFL. GONZALEZ is a physical dude, but also has elite athleticism. They still have the luxury of a late Round One selection with better value at the Pick to help an aging OL.
- TITANS JORDAN ADDISON WR Southern Cal The trade of A.J. Brown gave the team this Pick due to their offensive struggles without their top wideout. It also cost their GM ROBINSON his job, or so we are told. ADDISON. is not anything like BROWN physically, but he is more elusive and explosive than anyone else in their current receiving corps. He may also help in their Return Game.
- TEXANS QUENTIN JOHNSTON WR TCU He is NOT your 100-catch type guy, but he is a big, deep weapon who requires attention on every passing down. A good receiver’s coach could bring out more in him, especially in pattern running. Boom or bust type wideout.
- JETS BRODERICK JONES* OT Georgia The JETS Offense self-destructed as the season progressed. And no, LEVIS is not the answer here either. Their OL was part of the problem not the solution, and OT is their most questionable spot. JONES is a tad short on length, but he’s athletic and strong. He will start somewhere on their OL as a Rookie.
- PATRIOTS PARIS JOHNSON OT Ohio State Look for the PATS to first scream in their Draft Room because they wanted JONES, then take a guy who might be a young, hungrier and certainly cheaper giant OT option than TRENT BROWN. IMO, besides a mess in places within the coaching staff, their OL is their biggest offensive problem. If they can coach him up, whoever is their designated OL Coach then he’s worth this Pick on several levels.
- PACKERS BRIAN BRANCH DB Alabama The Packers suddenly look like they need a huge infusion of new talent. And nowhere is that more evident than at their S slots. AMOS looks to be aging quickly, and SAVAGE is still trying to emerge as a pro, but is looking like a lost puppy at times out there in coverage. BRANCH is the most productive player in that ‘Bama secondary and is a hard hitting, sure tackler, something that Green Bay secondary seems to lack these days.
- COMMANDERS O’CYRUS TORRENCE OG Florida This mammoth man moved to Gainesville to follow Coach Napier from Lafayette, LA. He transitioned to OG from OT and dominated like you would expect a man his size should. He might even get a look at OT for them, but IOL looks like the spot.
- STEELERS JALIN HYATT WR Tennessee HYATT became the No. 1 wideout for the Vols when TILLMAN got hurt. And he became the big play, deep receiver who always seemed to be the end zone. Just what the Steelers need to compliment PICKENS & JOHNSON. I thought about RINGO to fill a big CB need, but MIKE TOMLIN might go crazy with RINGO’s bully-boy approach to receivers who get away from him. When in doubt grab the receiver doesn’t work well in the NFL, especially for Rookies.
- LIONS BRYAN BRESEE DT Clemson His high school career was significantly better than his college tenure at Clemson. Injuries and family issues derailed him the past 2 years. But the talent is there, which makes him a fair risk/reward Pick for an ascending LIONS team. For me, Bresee would immediately become the most talented member of their DL, next to ER HUTCHINSON.
I will fill in the rest of Round One once we get through the Play-Offs.
Just a quick mention that the Hula Bowl, from the island of Orlando, is on tap for this Saturday. Unfortunately, it is bereft of very much 2023 Draft talent. But I will be taping it to see if, as usual, a few players stand out that will be worth tracking for a run at Mr. Irrelevant come the Draft.
Just a parting note that in case you are wondering how WILL LEVIS failed to be in this Mock of mine… I do not see LEVIS as a potential NFL starting QB, and he is not scheduled to appear in any Round One Mocks from this Draftnik.