By Evan Joseph ‘23
After the Los Angeles Rams won their 2nd Super Bowl over the Cincinnati Bengals and an offseason that has changed the outlook for many teams heading into next year, teams look to complete their rosters for upcoming years through the NFL draft. Just recently, we have seen the 2020 2nd overall selection Joe Burrow and the 2021 5th overall selection Ja’marr Chase transform the Bengals and lead them to the Super Bowl. And now, let’s predict who each team will take in order to hopefully help their team go to the next level.
1) Jacksonville Jaguars: DE Travon Walker, Georgia
The Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke is believed to favor Walker over Aidan Hutchinson due to his upside and generational athleticism for his size. Walker proved to be a great run-stopper at Georgia and has projectable tools to become a stellar pass-rusher as well.
2) Detroit Lions: DE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
After being believed to be the consensus first pick for the majority of the offseason, Hutchinson falls to second due to the preference of the Jaguars’ GM. Hutchinson gets to stay close to home and show off his impressive skills both as a run-defender, pass-rusher and has the type of character that fits Lions Head Coach Dan Campbell’s blueprint.
3) Houston Texans: CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati
New Head Coach Lovie Smith has proven to be defensive-minded during past coaching jobs and selecting Gardner would be a great pick for a team in need of a CB 1. Gardner has both the size, athleticism, and skill to possibly become a great pro.
4) New York Jets: OT Iken Ekwonu, NC State
Ikem Ekwonu is a versatile offensive lineman who specializes in run-blocking and could become a good pass-blocker. With this being said, rumors around current Jets tackle Mekhi Becton possibly being traded away, drafting a player like Ekwonu who can play both the position Becton currently plays (Left Tackle) if he is traded, or offensive guard if Becton is to stay, this is a choice that benefits them either way.
5) New York Giants: OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State
Charles Cross is seen as the best pass-blocker in this draft which fits perfectly under Brian Daboll’s pass-heavy offense which he looks to bring to the New York Giants. The Giants are in need of another tackle and Cross perfectly matches the scheme and could possibly help quarterback Daniel Jones who has struggled thus far into his career.
6) Carolina Panthers: OT Evan Neal, Alabama
Evan Neal would be an upgrade for one of the worst offensive lines in football over the past few years. Neal has played both tackle spots and even guard at Alabama and has done all of which at a high level. Neal is an athletic freak with a giant 6’7 frame and could be the future of the Panthers offensive line.
7) New York Giants (from Chicago Bears): CB Derek Stingley Jr, LSU
In a year where the Giants have already lost players in the secondary like Logan Ryan, Jabrill Peppers, and possibly trading James Bradberry, reloading with Derek Stingley Jr would be a great addition. Stingley adds a high level of talent with fluid hips and blazing speed and has the ability in press-man coverage to play at a high level in Giants Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale’s defense.
8) Pittsburgh Steelers (Projected Trade from Falcons): QB Malik Willis, Liberty
This is a trade that would benefit both teams as the Falcons roster is not at a point where this pick would help fix all their problems so loading up on future assets allows them to address more of their holes moving forward than this one pick would. For the Steelers, filling the spot left by long-time starter Ben Roethlisberger has been the goal of their offseason, as they still have a team that is ready to win now. So getting a quarterback that fills the desires of Head Coach Mike Tomlin would be ideal and that’s what Malik Willis does with his impressive arm strength and top-tier mobility and scrambling ability.
9) Seattle Seahawks (from Denver Broncos): DE Jermaine Johnson, Florida State
The Seahawks defense hasn’t had a good edge rusher in a long time so possibly adding one could be very beneficial. Johnson was the ACC defensive player of the year and is a polished player with a high ceiling at the very least being a good run-defender in the NFL and would be a great pick for the Seahawks.
10) New York Jets (from Seattle Seahawks) WR Drake London, USC
Drake London is the big-body type of receiver that quarterback Zach Wilson thrived. Drake is huge standing at 6’5 and plays huge too, consistently coming down with contested catches. Providing for your young quarterback is never a bad decision and Drake could be the answer for the Jets.
11) Washington Commanders: WR Garret Wilson, Ohio State
12) Minnesota Vikings: DE Kayvon Thibodeaux
13) Houston Texans (from Cleveland Browns): DT Jordan Davis, Georgia
14) Baltimore Ravens: OG Zion Johnson, Boston College
15) Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami Dolphins): WR Jameson Williams, Alabama
16) New Orleans Saints (from Indianapolis Colts through Philadelphia Eagles): WR Chris Olave, Ohio State
17) Los Angeles Chargers: DT Devonte Wyatt, Georgia
18) Philadelphia Eagles (from New Orleans Saints): LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
19) New Orleans Saints (from Philadelphia Eagles): OG Kenyon Green, Texas A&M
20) Atlanta Falcons (Projected trade from Steelers): WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas
21) New England Patriots: CB Trent McDuffie, Washington
22) Green Bay Packers (from Las Vegas Raiders): WR George Pickens, Georgia
23) Arizona Cardinals: DE Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State
24) Dallas Cowboys: OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa
25) Buffalo Bills: RB Breece Hall, Iowa State
26) Tennessee Titans: OT Tyler Smith, Tulsa
27) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Kenny Pickett, Pitt
28) Green Bay Packers: DE George Karlaftis, Purdue
29) Kansas City Chiefs (from San Francisco 49ers through Miami Dolphins): S Daxton Hill, Michigan
30) Kansas City Chiefs: WR Jahan Dotson, Penn State
31) Cincinnati Bengals: CB Kaiir Elam, Florida
32) Detroit Lions (from Los Angeles Rams): S Lewis Cine, Georgia