Fanspeak Mock Draft 3.22: No draft-day trades in the first round? That largely depends on one team

NFL Draft News

We know Carolina isn’t going to trade out of the first overall pick, and Houston seems destined to snag the next-best quarterback.

But what would motivate Arizona from moving out of the third-spot?

If the Cardinals did, then they’d miss out on perhaps the best defensive player in the draft, Alabama pass rusher Will Anderson, also happens to play a position of need.

After that, it’s hard to see any other team moving up, presumably to take the third-best QB, due in large part to the questions surrounding the 2023 QB class.

After that, what player in this draft screams “I have to have that player?”

Texas Tech pass rusher Tyree Wilson is a nice, high-motor player with excellent size and traits. But his 17.0 career sacks are a half-sack less than the tally Anderson put up as a sophomore. There’s no blue-chip offensive tackle – or offensive lineman, for that matter. Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter was seen as a potential top-5 player until a few weeks’ worth of bad press knocked him down into mid-first to early-second round range.

This is a deep year for running backs and tight ends, but show me the team that’s willing to trade assets to take a Michael Mayer or a Bijan Robinson. Same goes for the receivers in this draft – and it’s not a good year for that group.

Need a cornerback? This is a very deep year for the position, with talent found all the way until the early part of the fifth round. But you won’t find a Derek Stingley or a Ahmad Gardner in this group.

However, that’s not to say this draft doesn’t have its merits or totally lacks talent. Instead, the talent is pretty evenly distributed. Why would Dallas trade up to snag a defensive lineman like Bryan Bresee when it can find about a dozen other talented tackles on Day 2?

So it’s possible, albeit highly unlikely, that the first round comes and goes without a single draft-day trade in Round 1.


Round 1

1. Carolina Panthers: QB Anthony Richardson, Florida

2. Houston Texans: QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State

We’re still not convinced Houston will take Alabama’s Bryce Young. It has nothing to do with his ability and everything to do with his size at 5-foot-10, 204 pounds. Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson, Baker Mayfield, Tua Tagovailoa have all had some measure of success – especially Wilson, a Super Bowl-winning QB – and yet all could be on another team’s roster by this time next season. Is size the sole reason? No. But it certainly factors in when, say, 6-foot-3, 350-pound Cincinnati defensive tackle Josh Tupou slings the much-smaller Tagovailoa to the ground. Young, for what it’s worth, will be the smallest starting QB in the league.

3. Arizona Cardinals: Edge Will Anderson, Alabama

Myjai Sanders (3.0) and Jonathan Ledbetter (1.0) combined for less sacks last season than Zach Allen (5.5) had. Allen and J.J. Watt (12.5 sacks) are no longer on the team, leaving Sanders, a 2022 fifth-rounder, and Ledbetter, a 2019 undrafted free agent, as the starting defensive ends right now. Tyree Wilson has been the trendy pick over Anderson in recent mock drafts as the Texas Tech pass rusher continues his meteoric rise despite a still-healing foot injury that has prevented him from working out. Either way, the talent at pass rusher is fairly thin and the dropoff after those two pass rushers is noticeable.

4. Indianapolis Colts: QB Bryce Young, Alabama

Here’s the problem when comparing an undersized player to a Pro Bowl-type player at the same position who’s also undersized: There’s a reason that Player B is the exception to the rule. By drafting Player A, you’re hoping he winds up playing at, near or above Player B’s level – which is a huge leap of faith. So why would new coach Shane Steichen take that chance? Because the Colts can protect Young better than most. Aside from question marks at right guard, Indianapolis has one of the better offensive lines in the league opening holes for one of the top young running backs. Besides, if things go disastrously for Young and Steichen, then odds are good that Indianapolis will have another shot at drafting a top-5 QB in 2024.

5. Seattle Seahawks: Edge Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech

The former Texas A&M transfer has reportedly had terrific interviews with teams.  Wilson has been compared to some of the big, bruising, intimidating pass rushers from Seattle’s old “Legion of Boom” days.

6. Detroit Lions: QB Will Levis, Kentucky

Let Jerod Goff start the next few years, with Levis filling in when and if needed, then hope the Kentucky signal-caller is ready to become the full-time starter by Year 3, at the latest.

7. Las Vegas Raiders: G Peter Skoronski, Northwestern

This is why Las Vegas signed Jimmy G. Hoping a QB they liked fell to them was always wishful thinking, and giving up assets to move up for one of these QBs is just as risky.

8. Atlanta Falcons: Edge Lukas Van Ness, Iowa

The Athletic’s Josh Kendall says the team is unlikely to draft Georgia’s Jalen Carter (coach Arthur Smith was among other Falcons personnel who were on hand for Carter’s reportedly poor Pro Day performance. Either way, Atlanta needs a pass rusher, and Van Ness can play with his hand down or on the edge as an outside linebacker for the Falcons.

9. Chicago Bears: RB Bijan Robinson, Texas

Dallas Cowboys fans would be equal-parts overjoyed and upset by this pick: thrilled to see Robinson go one pick ahead of Philadelphia but nowhere near low enough for Dallas to take him.

10. Philadelphia Eagles: S Brian Branch, Alabama

A Branch-for-C.J. Gardner-Johnson swap sounds like a win for Philadelphia’s defense – which might already be the best in football.

11. Tennessee Titans: DL Jalen Carter, Georgia

Who’s Tennessee banging its hands on the table for at this point? Exactly, no one. So go with arguably the best player in the draft. At least the Titans have some familiarity with first-round players from Georgia who came with some question marks.

12. Houston Texans: Edge Myles Murphy, Clemson’s Daniel Jeremiah has the Texans taking Murphy here, and we agree with the pick. Murphy would immediately walk in as the team’s top pass rusher, even if his draft stock has been all over the place lately.

13. New York Jets: CB Christian Gonzalez, Oregon

New York has to make this pick count, because it sounds like it won’t have a high draft pick in a while after this draft, as the Aaron Rodgers talks continue to drag on. Besides, the Sauce Gardner-Christian Gonzalez duo gives the Jets a solid set of cornerbacks in a division where that’s important.

14. New England Patriots: CB Devon Witherspoon, Illinois

See above about the AFC East.

15. Green Bay Packers: TE Dalton 1Kincaid, Utah

It sounds like New York is doing everything it can to hold onto this year’s first-round pick, which may be a part of the delay in trade talks. This is the first surprise of the draft – not because Green Bay drafted a tight end, as the Packers need one and this is a great, albeit top-heavy, year for the position. The surprise is Kincaid going over Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer.

16. Washington Commanders: OT Paris Johnson, Ohio State

Yes, the Commanders signed Andrew Wylie to a two-year deal. And, no, Charles Leno isn’t going anywhere. But Johnson is too talented to pass up at this point, and he has experience playing guard. The team’s right guard, Samuel Cosmi, is also a converted tackle. Besides, adding talent to the offensive line is never a bad idea, especially when that team plans to start a 2022 fifth-rounder at quarterback.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Joey Porter Jr., Penn State

How many times do you think TV announcers will point out who Porter’s father is? Half a dozen times per game over the next 10-plus years? It almost makes you want to draft the next-best CB, but this is goo much value to pass up.

18. Detroit Lions: TE Michael Mayer, Notre Dame

This will be a nice target for Goff and/or Levis to throw to over the next decade or so.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OT Broderick Jones, Georgia

The Bucs might have the worst OL in the league – even with Tristan Wirfs as the starting left tackle. New QB Baker Mayfield won’t look very good if he’s running for his life every play.

20. Seattle Seahawks: C John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota

Joey Hall is currently slated as Seattle’s starting QB. Who, you say? Exactly. That’s why Seattle might be willing to reach a bit for Schmitz, ranked by some as the top-rated interior linemen in this draft.

21. Los Angeles Chargers: WR Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee

USC’s Jordan Addison has fallen a bit in recent weeks, while the speedy Hyatt is ascending.

22. Baltimore Ravens: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State

This is a bit of a boom-or-bust pick: great pick if JSN can stay healthy. Another miss, though, if he doesn’t, then it’s another miss at the position and more reason for QB Lamar Jackson to force his way out.

23. Minnesota Vikings: WR Quentin Johnston, TCU

A Johnston-Justin Jefferson combo would give NFC North teams nightmares for the next half-dozen years.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars: CB Deonte Banks, Maryland

Need another CB to pair with Tyson Campbell? Got one now.

25. New York Giants: CB Kelee Ringo, Georgia

New York desperately needs a center and a No. 1 receiver, but it needs a corner just as badly – especially in the receiver-deep NFC East.

26. Dallas Cowboys: DL Bryan Bresee, Clemson

Dallas needs a left guard and probably a run-stuffing 1-tech, too, even if it re-signs Johnathan Hankins, as expected. Bresee is exactly the kind of flashy pick the Cowboys love, plus he’d fill a position of need. Bresee would give Dallas a nice DT rotation with Hankins and Osa Odighizuwa.

27. Buffalo Bills: LB Jack Campbell, Iowa

The Bresee pick would crush the Bills; still, Campbell is a nice pickup after the team lost Tremaine Edmunds to Chicago in free agency.

28. Cincinnati Bengals: OT Dawand Jones, Ohio State

Cincinnati shocked the world and signed Orlando Brown Jr. in free agency, forcing current starting left tackle Jonah Williams to ask to be traded. Meanwhile, right tackle La’el Collins was a bit of a disappointment at right tackle in his first year with the team and is recovering from injuries. Jones then seems like a no-brainer pick here.

29. New Orleans Saints: Edge Nolan Smith, Georgia

To be clear, New Orleans hasn’t had a lot of luck in recent years when drafting first-round pass rushers who have “ideal” size for the position, as Marcus Davenport (2018) was a bit of a disappointment and recently signed with Minnesota and Payton Turner (2021) is barely hanging onto a roster spot. So, would the team fare better with Smith, a player who doesn’t have ideal physical traits for a 4-3 end? Smith at least has something going for him that the other two didn’t: pure speed. Smith might be the fastest defensive end in the league, a trait that’s served Dallas pass rusher Micah Parsons well. Parsons entered the league as a big linebacker but is now an undersized, by highly effective, defensive end because of his speed.

30. Philadelphia: LB Drew Sanders, Arkansas

Just what Philadelphia needs, another playmaking linebacker capable of rushing the passer. Don’t be surprised if the Eagles lead the league again in sacks.

31. Kansas City: OT Darnell Wright, Tennessee

The Chiefs need a right tackle. Mission accomplished. How does Kansas City make it so easy revamping its tackles every year?

Who’s Left

Los Angeles Rams, second round: OT Anton Harrison, Oklahoma

Cleveland Browns, second round: Edge Tuli Tuipulotu, USC

Miami Dolphins, second round:  TE Sam LaPorta, Iowa

Denver Broncos, third round: OT Tyler Steen, Alabama

San Francisco 49ers, third round:  CB Garrett Williams, Syracuse


Jake Rigdon (@jrigdon73) covers the NFL draft for His big board is updated at least once per week during the season and leading up to the draft. Message him on Twitter to receive $3 off your new Ultimate GM subscription.

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