Draft week is finally here! I have spent the last 3 months watching tape, writing scouting reports, conducting mock drafts, and shooting draft videos, and between you and me, I’m sick of it all. So I’m going to take a break today, step back, and attempt to inject some levity into the NFL draft cycle with my annual Mock Mock Draft!
I’m sure you have already seen way too many mock drafts. So today, we are going to do something a little different and mock a mock draft. So in this mock, mock draft, the picks are all Eric Edholm’s, but the analysis is all mine.
1 – Carolina Panthers – QB Bryce Young
The Panthers played 4 different QBs last season, and none of them was the rookie they traded up for in last year’s draft. If there is 1 team who can be 100% trusted to make the right move at QB, it is the Panthers who previously cut Cam Newton, drafted Will Grier, traded for Sam Darnold, resigned Cam Newton, traded up for Matt Corral, traded for Baker Mayfield, waived Baker Mayfield, and signed Andy Dalton. Oh yeah, they also traded 2 first-round picks, 2 second-round picks, and D.J. Moore to move up to #1 with the intention of drafting C.J. Stroud before they just changed their mind. Yeah, I’m sure this is going to go great.
2 – Houston Texans – EDGE Will Anderson Jr.
In the last 2 seasons, the Texans have had 2 different 1 and done coaches while ranking 30th or worse in points and yards per game. After a week 18 win cost them the first-round pick, they decided to pass on drafting a QB because they believed that of this year’s draft class, only Bryce Young could improve on incumbent starter Davis Mills’ 31st-ranked completion percentage (61.0%), 34th ranked yards per attempt (6.5), or 36th ranked QB Rating (78.8). I hope Will Anderson enjoys playing the run because I’m pretty sure teams will be trying to grind out the clock with 20+ point leads in the mid-2nd quarter next season.
3 – Las Vegas Raiders – QB C.J. Stroud
The Raiders made the fateful decision to hire a New England Patriots assistant coach last offseason and are now reaping the rewards of that move. The last time Josh McDaniels was a head coach, he alienated starting QB Jay Cutler and shipped him out of town, turned in a subpar 1st season, drafted a 1st round QB (Tim Tebow), and regressed even more heavily in year 2 amidst a cheating scandal before being fired. So chin up, Raiders fans, if history is any indication, this should be the last year you have to deal with McDaniels, and if that is the case, then any trade-up is worth the cost.
4 – Indianapolis Colts – QB Will Levis
Chris Ballard finally drafted a QB! However, you might want to temper your expectations since the QB he selected had to transfer away from Penn State when he couldn’t beat out Sean Clifford following the 2019-2020 seasons, where he completed under 60% of his passes. Over the last 2 seasons at Kentucky, Levis has thrown 23 interceptions and fumbled the ball 9 times while struggling mightily with the lack of talent surrounding him on offense. Unfortunately for Levis, his pass catchers in Indy aren’t much better than they were at Kentucky.
5 – Seattle Seahawks – EDGE Tyree Wilson
When you have a 33-year-old QB who has 1 good season in his career, on a contract you can get out of after 1 season, and the most athletic QB in the history of the NFL draft is sitting there at 5 you should always sprint to the podium to select a 23-year-old EDGE rusher who averaged less than a half of a sack per game in the Big XII, where nobody ever calls running plays.
6 – Detroit Lions – CB Devon Witherspoon
When you have a 28-year-old QB that not even Sean McVay could win a Super Bowl with, and the most athletic QB in the history of the NFL draft is sitting there at 6 you should always sprint to the podium to select a defensive back. Oh, did I already use that joke? Maybe the thinking in Detroit is that they could never win a Super Bowl with Matthew Stafford (something McVay accomplished in his first year paired with Stafford) so having a good QB is a waste of time anyways.
7 – Arizona Cardinals – CB Christian Gonzalez
Walking into halftime of the Super Bowl, new Cardinals HC Jonathan Gannon had a 10-point lead and the chance to bring home the Lombardi if he could get a stop of the re-hobbled Patrick Mahomes. With the best CB duo in the NFL at his disposal and a record setting pass rush, he went on to surrender 4 consecutive scoring drives as he threw away a championship on the very sideline where he will now spend his Sunday afternoons. How the Cardinals watched that performance and said, “We need that!” I will never know. But taking Christian Gonzalez here is a great start towards building that defense with 11 All-Pro players that will look great until they face a slightly above-average NFL QB.
8 – Atlanta Falcons – EDGE Nolan Smith
In the last 2 seasons combined, the Falcons have only 39 sacks, 23 sacks less than the 2nd worst team in that same span. In 2020 and 2022 the Falcons spent a pair of 2nd round picks on EDGE rushers who averaged under 4 sacks per season in their college careers (Arnold Ebiketie and Marlon Davidson.) Davidson is no longer with the Falcons after recording only 1 sack in 2 seasons, while Arnold Ebiketie notched a whopping 2.5 sacks last season. What the Falcons have learned from this, is that 2nd round investments into pass rushers who can’t rush the passer aren’t enough. So this year they prioritize spending a 1st round pick on a pass rusher who can’t rush the passer in Nolan Smith, who has never had a 5 sack season in his collegiate career. That’ll fix the pass rush.
9 – Chicago Bears – DT Jalen Carter
After drafting back-to-back defensive backs in the 2022 draft to help Justin Fields, the Bears landed the #1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft. They declared their faith in Justin Fields by eschewing a QB selection and trading out of that pick so they could take yet another defensive player. Nevermind the fact that Justin Fields, the player who can do this:
Took the most sacks in the NFL last season despite attempting the least amount of passes among QBs who started double-digit games. But yeah, go draft a defensive linemen and just pray Fields survives 2023. Thoughts and prayers…
10 – Philadelphia Eagles – OT Paris Johnson Jr.
The Eagles are in a Super Bowl window, so 1 year after trading up to select a Nose Tackle who barely played to start the year, and then was out-snapped by 2 free agents signed in late November (34-year-old Linval Joseph and 36-year-old Ndamukong Suh) down the stretch, the Eagles continue to follow their mantra of spending premium picks on players who might play a few years from now.
11 – Tennessee Titans – Anthony Richardson Jr.
After trading up to select super athletic QB Malik Willis in last year’s draft, it became very apparent that head coach Mike Vrabel wanted nothing to do with an athletic rookie QB, choosing instead to sign Joshua Dobbs off of the Lions practice squad in late December to start a week 17 game against the Cowboys where he completed 51% of his passes and tossed an interception in a loss. Then in a week 18 win and in game against the Jaguars, Vrabel stuck with Dobbs, who answered the bell with an interception and a strip sack to lose the game. After bailing on the last athletic QB they drafted after a mere 61 passes, it makes total sense to draft another one while also paying Ryan Tannehill almost $40 million dollars for 2023.
12 – Houston Texans – WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
After having the 2nd worst DVOA passing attack in 2022, the Texans are poised to be much better in 2023 after hiring an up-and-coming offensive mind as their head coach, drafting a QB at #2, and then cashing on the top WR in this class. Wait, what’s that you say? They hired a defensive coordinator? They didn’t even take a QB at #2? Congrats on having the #1 pick in 2023, Houston. See if you can keep from screwing it up with a meaningless week 18 win again this year.
13 – Green Bay Packers – EDGE Myles Murphy
The Aaron Rodgers saga is finally over! 3 years after drafting his replacement (the only 1st round pick spent on the offensive side of the ball since 2011), Rodgers finally got tired of single-handedly trying to carry the offense and demanded a trade. After running their Hall of Fame QB out of town by their refusal to draft any playmakers, surely the Packers finally address the WR room for Jordan Love, right? Wrong. The Packers make their 12th selection on the defensive side of the ball in their last 13 1st round picks. For all the first-round picks poured into the defense, you would think they would have a decent defense, but the last time they were an above-average DVOA defense was in 2015. But hey, if it’s broken, don’t fix it, right? Wait, what do you mean that’s not how the saying goes?
14 – New England Patriots – OL Peter Skoronski
The last 4 players the Patriots have selected in the 1st round are OT Isaiah Wynn (2018), WR N’Keal Harry (2019), QB Mac Jones (2021), and OG Cole Strange (2022). Cole Strange (a consensus 3rd round prospect) struggled in his rookie season, notching a 54.6 PFF grade, the exact same grade fellow 1st round OL pick Isaiah Wynn earned. The Patriots sure know how to pick offensive linemen in the 1st round so I’m sure they will get this one right. After all, the 3rd time is the charm, right?
It’s not like they are any better at drafting other positions. N’Keal Harry no longer plays for the Patriots after averaging under 200 yards per season over the 1st 3 years of his career. The only 1st round pick they might have gotten right was Mac Jones, who they actively sabotaged in year 2 by saddling him with Matt Patricia and then getting mad when he sought competent coaching outside the organization.
15 – New York Jets – OT Broderick Jones
In his 2 seasons at Georgia, Broderick Jones won back-to-back National Championship games. Those 4 postseason wins are the same amount of postseason wins the Jets have in the last 18 years, so adding someone with some postseason success into the mix might help the locker room culture. Between Jones and Aaron Rodgers, who has 2 postseason wins in the last 5 years combined, surely the Jets are finally on the right track. What could possibly go wrong?
16 – Washington Commanders – OT Darnell Wright
Since losing Kirk Cousins following the 2017 season, the Commanders have changed team names twice, starting QBs 12 times, and changed owners once. The crown jewel of their QB shuffling was the decision to trade a 3rd round pick and a conditional 3rd round pick for Carson Wentz, a QB who was so bad that the Colts moved on from him 1 season after trading a 2nd and 1st round pick for him. That went predictably horribly, with Wentz losing the starting job after only 7 games.
In Darnell Wright, the Commanders get a talented OT prospect to protect the QB they may never have again. However, if you are a Commanders fan you are probably still over the moon about the fact that Daniel Snyder, who bought the team in 1999, has finally relinquished ownership. Commanders fans will fondly remember the Snyder era for having more name changes than playoff wins and being marred by allegations of sexual harassment, bank fraud, and stealing money from other owners, as well as investigations by the NFL, FBI, DEA, IRS, and Congress, the last of which caused Snyder to flee the country on a yacht to avoid a subpena to testify and mercifully led to the sale of the team.
17 – Pittsburgh Steelers – EDGE Lukas Van Ness
Mike Tomlin eked out his 16th straight season without a losing record in 2022 as the Steelers won 6 of their final 7 games to end with a 9-8 record. The Steelers desperately need offensive line and cornerback help. Fortunately, this draft is deep at both positions, giving the Steelers a lot of good options. Wait, they took an EDGE rusher? This is a team that was above average in sacks last year even with T.J. Watt missing half the season. And of all the EDGE rusher they could take, they took Lukas Van Ness, a player so good he never even started a game for Iowa. A power rusher so powerful that he managed to muster only an 8th percentile performance on the bench press.
18 – Kansas City Chiefs – WR Zay Flowers
Last season the Chiefs proved that they don’t need WRs to have the most efficient offense in the NFL, averaging 19% more EPA per dropback than the 2nd place team. Their defense almost cost them another Super Bowl ring though, giving up 35 points to the Eagles offense and putting the offense in the position of needing a bailout flag from the officials to put the game away. I don’t know, maybe just trust Mahomes and fix the defense, or at least let the draft come to you instead of trading up when Mahomes has already proven he can throw to anyone.
19 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – RB Bijan Robinson
What do you give the team that needs everything? Why a running back of course! Don’t worry about QB, OL, TE. I’m sure a Running back will fix everything. Before Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski came to town, the Bucs had gone without a winning record in 8 of the previous 9 seasons. They are headed full speed ahead into irrelevancy again and dragging down one of the most exciting draft prospects in this class with them. Their best hope is that Brady and Gronk decide they are bored in retirement again.
20 – New York Giants – WR Jordan Addison
With the selection of Addison, the Giants WR corps now consists of Isiah Hodgins, Parris Campbell, Wan’Dale Robinson, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Jamison Crowder, and Jordan Addison. Their average WR size is 5’11”, 191 pounds which is 21st percentile height and 31st percentile weight. In a sport where big people beat little people the Giants are deeply committed to drafting little people. The upside is that Addison does his best work with mediocre QBs, winning the Biletnikoff Award in 2021 with Kenny Pickett before transferring to USC to play with an elite QB in Caleb Williams and seeing his production decline sharply. So now that I think about it, maybe Addison is a perfect fit for the Giants. It makes sense why they chose to trade up for him.
21 – Los Angeles Chargers – CB Joey Porter Jr.
The Chargers hit the jackpot when they selected Justin Herbert with the 6th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. Once it became apparent that Herbert was their franchise QB, they took a leaf out of the Baltimore Ravens playbook and gave him absolutely no support. For the love of all that is good in the world, can you please just draft a WR that runs a sub 4.6 40-yard dash already? Is that really too much to ask? #FreeJustinHerbert.
22 – Baltimore Ravens – CB Deonte Banks
After trading the only WR that Lamar Jackson has ever had during last year’s draft to select a center, the Ravens eschew the WR position once again. I guess they think that signing Nelson Agholor (a WR known for his drop issues who has never even had a 900 yard season and actually didn’t have 900 yards the last 2 years combined) and Odell Beckham Jr. (A 31 year old WR coming off of a major injury that cost him the entire 2022 season) is good enough. Oh, did I forget to mention that OBJ had the 2 worst years of his career in 2020 and 2021 prior to his injury? Yeah, I don’t really blame Lamar for wanting out. #FreeLamarJackson
23 – Minnesota Vikings – CB Emmanuel Forbes
Emmanuel Forbes weighed in at the NFL Combine at 166 pounds. Usually, prospects that know they are underweight will put on weight for their combine weigh-in (see Bryce Young gaining 10 pounds). Is 166 Forbes top-end weight!? Here is a list of every NFL player that weighed under 170 pounds during the 2022 season:
That is pretty impressive company that Forbes finds himself in.
24 – Jacksonville Jaguars – DB Brian Branch
Brian Branch knows how to play multiple positions on the defensive side of the football after taking significant snaps as a box safety, slot cornerback, and even taking some snaps as a deep safety. He will be a welcome addition to the roster after the Jaguars spent the 1st overall pick a year ago on a player who knew how to play 0 positions.
25 – Seattle Seahawks – TE Michael Mayer
The Seahawks acquired former 1st-round pick Noah Fant from the Broncos last offseason. Since 2007, only 1 of 13 TEs selected in the 1st round has ever had 2 seasons with more than 750 receiving yards. Here is hoping that Seattle gets their Greg Olsen instead of their version of Hayden Hurst, David Njoku, Evan Engram, O.J. Howard, Jermain Gresham, or Dustin Keller.
26 – Dallas Cowboys – TE Dalton Kincaid
The new excuse for Dak Prescott’s inability to win in the postseason* is some combination of lack of offensive weapons (who could have possibly predicted that giving away Amari Cooper would blow up in your face) and scapegoating Kellen Moore. Moore is gone now, leaving Mike McCarthy, a coach so bad he could only get 1 Super Bowl out of prime Aaron Rodgers, as the offensive play caller. After asserting his belief in running the ball, the Cowboys cut RB Zeke Elliott and draft a TE who doesn’t have a clue how to block.
*Upon further reflection it is probably unfair to blame the lack of postseason success on Dak Prescott. After all, the last time the Cowboys advanced past the divisional round of the playoffs Dak was only 2 years old.
27 – Buffalo Bills – WR Jalin Hyatt
Remember at the end of last season when the Bills’ offense looked broken and Josh Allen wouldn’t stop launching vertical shots? Instead of fixing it by adding a receiver who can run routes or a running back to shoulder some of the load, the Bills instead double down on their chuck-it-and-pray offense by selecting a receiver who only has 1 route in his route tree.
28 – Cincinnati Bengals – RB Jahmyr Gibbs
The Bengals had the #4 DVOA rushing attack last season, saw their new-look offensive line crumble down the stretch, and then lost both of their starting safeties to free agency this offseason. So sure, draft a running back. I’m not sure that moves the needle at all but Gibbs is a fun player. Personally, I would probably focus on keeping your franchise QB upright, but that’s just me. Burrow has been sacked 121 times in the last 2 seasons, but I’m sure that’s no big deal for a guy who has already torn his ACL and MCL.
29 – New Orleans Saints – DT Mazi Smith
A year ago, the Saints thought they were a true contender in the NFC, trading their 1st round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles so they could move up and draft Trevor Penning, an offensive tackle who was thrown out of training camp for fighting his teammates. He ended up starting just 1 game in 2022, the week 18 finale. Unfortunately for the Saints, they were very wrong, and their top 10 pick that they should have used to finally make a move at QB is held by the Eagles. So instead, they signed Derek Carr (a QB who couldn’t even win games with Davante Adams) and drafted a nose tackle to help stop the run when teams are trying to drain the clock in blowout victories over the Saints next season.
30 – Philadelphia Eagles – DT Bryan Bresee
The Eagles just can’t help themselves when it comes to drafting linemen in the 1st round of the draft. Having already drafted an offensive tackle who won’t play as a rookie, they now draft a DT that will be behind Jordan Davis (last year’s 1st-round pick), Fletcher Cox (2012’s 1st-round pick), and Milton Williams. After all, you can never have too many linemen.
31 – Detroit Lions – DT Calijah Kancey
Last season the Lions had one of the worst run defenses in the NFL in EPA per rush (27th), DVOA (26th), Rushing Yards Allowed per Game (29th), and Yards per Carry Allowed (30th). So they close out the first round by drafting a DT who is 2nd percentile height, 4th percentile weight, has 1st percentile arm length, and can’t anchor in the run game to save his life.
And, so no team is left out, I’ll take a few parting shots at the teams that don’t have a 1st round pick in this year’s draft.
No Team Left Behind
Denver Broncos – Russell Wilson… need I say more?
Los Angeles Rams – The best value the Rams could get would be trading a 1st round pick to another team for their logo, but I’m not sure any team would be willing to take the embarrassment of sporting the Rams logo. If nobody is up for a logo swap, maybe the Rams could trade their 1st for some fans and just go back to their throwback logo? Sadly, these are both hypotheticals because the Rams don’t even have a 1st round pick. In fact, they haven’t made a 1st round pick since 2016, when they selected QB Jared Goff. Considering how that turned out for them, I don’t blame them for deciding to never make a 1st round selection again.
Cleveland Browns – The Browns don’t have a 1st round pick in this year’s draft or next year’s draft. But that is the price that you pay to acquire the rights to give a serial sexual predator a fully guaranteed contract. At least the deal worked out for them, with Watson finishing behind Taylor Heinicke, Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Tyler Huntley, Andy Dalton, Mitch Trubisky, and Marcus Mariota in EPA per play last season.
No Team Left Behind Still
Miami Dolphins – I’m not sure what is worse for Dolphins fans, forfeiting your 1st round pick for cheating or watching the player your team tried to cheat to get play as bad as he did in 2022 and then retire anyways. I hope it was worth it!
San Francisco 49ers – The 49ers 1st round pick this season (and last season) were used in the trade-up to acquire Trey Lance, a QB who they didn’t think was good enough to unseat Jimmy Garroppolo in 2021. After finally getting the starting job in 2022, Lance promptly got hurt. Now the team who whined incessantly about not having enough QBs in the NFC Championship game is fielding calls about trading Lance after he has started only 4 games, all while Brock Purdy (the 2nd coming of Tom Brady, if you haven’t heard) is likely to miss a portion of the 2023 season.
Shane is a teacher who specializes in financial literacy and history. He brings that mentality to every post he writes and video he records, breaking down the x’s and o’s of the NFL for fans. Shane is married and has 3 children (1 biological and 2 adopted) who are all the same age. He is a longtime Eagles fan and one of the few who didn’t throw a snowball at Santa Claus.