Erick's Official Round 1 Mock Draft

Now that the 2022 NFL season is complete and the first wave of the free agency frenzy is over, we turn to the biggest event of the offseason, the draft. For some casual fans, it is just another day on the calendar, but to die hards and draft nerds alike; this is Christmas!! For us it is not merely teams picking players to add to their organization, but an event of strategy and intrigue where every GM in the league tries to cipher through countless amounts of data and analytics of incomplete information to try to build a championship roster. Outside of free agency, this is the most impactful and cost-effective method of building the talent level of your team. With only seven rounds and each team mostly holding a handful of picks, it only raises the pressure to fill a team's needs with the right players. Good drafts can buoy a team's success for years to come, while bad ones can sink it immediately and leave the front office looking for new employment.

Full disclosure, I am one of those draft nerds (and armchair GM) who enjoy watching tape of different prospects and breaking down team needs to try to match the best players to each organization. With months long prep of this exercise and countless mock drafts, I feel I have a good understanding of most of the eligible players in the draft, each team's needed areas of improvement and the value of each position group in the class. With all this knowledge, I give to you my official NFL 2023 Round One Mock Draft.

For those of you who have not followed it closely to this point, this draft is weaker than most recent ones with only three (by consensus grading) "blue chip" prospects in this class. This makes this draft very polarizing on some players, who would normally not be considered round one talents with a stronger class. With this the case, teams are using more trait-based evaluations rather than given production to grade potential first round players. In my opinion, this is leading them to overvalue some players drastically and convincing themselves they are first round worthy. For this reason, I have chosen to perform this mock draft differently than previous years where I drafted players as if I were the GM for each team. Since there will be players drafted in the first round that I would not draft, and to have the board be somewhat accurate to what might actually take place in Kansas City on Thursday April 27, I have done a dual draft. This way I can tell you what I would do as GM based on my evaluations, and what I believe the teams will do on draft night. Of course, nobody really knows what players or positions each team values or what their strategy will be on draft night (stick and pick, trade up, trade down). For this reason, we will not be incorporating trades into this mock draft as we stick and pick in every slot.

Pick 1. Carolina Panthers

GM Erick- C.J. Stroud, QB Ohio State

GM Fitterer- Bryce Young, QB Alabama

Stroud is the most accurate QB in the draft and has the arm strength, while not elite, to make all the throws. He has the mobility to be a threat with his legs as well, adding another dimension to his game. With his size and big game production also considered, I wouldn't hesitate to make him the first pick off the board.

While I believe Young will be the pick, I just cannot endorse using the 1st overall pick on a 5'10, sub 200 pound, slightly built QB. For as great as he was in college, I cannot see him taking the physical beating that NFL defenders hand out.

Pick 2. Houston Texans

GM Erick- Will Levis, QB Kentucky

GM Caserio- C.J. Stroud, QB Ohio State

Boy I am sure the Texans fans are thrilled with Lovie Smith for winning in week 18 last year causing them to drop to pick #2!!

For my money, and because of the concerns stated earlier about Young, Levis is my QB2. The kid has the best arm in the draft as is one tough SOB. He played with less than stellar talent around him at Kentucky but was still able to put up great numbers in the best conference in college football all while getting beaten to a pulp behind a terrible offensive line. While he has decent athleticism to threaten plays outside of the pocket and off platform, his best asset is being able to stand in the pocket and deliver strikes downfield.

Pick 3. Arizona Cardinals

GM Erick- Will Anderson, Edge Alabama

GM Ossenfort- Will Anderson, Edge Alabama

The Cardinals are a prime trade down candidate in this spot as they might be the most talent bereft roster in the league, but with no trades they are forced to select here.

First time GM Ossenfort has an easy call here grabbing one of 3 "blue chip" players in the draft in Anderson. Especially after losing JJ Watt, the team is in desperate need of some pass rush. Jalen Carter was a consideration, but all his off-field issues and less than stellar pro day, make Anderson the call here.

Pick 4. Indianapolis Colts

GM Erick- Bryce Young, QB Alabama

Gm Ballard- Anthony Richardson, QB Florida

For the record, I am not an Anthony Richardson fan at all. I would not even consider him with a selection in the first two days of the draft. For all his immense physical gifts and insane RAS (Relative Athletic Score) and testing, he might have the worst processing and decision making of any QB prospect. Watching film, you see him repeatedly only looking to his first read. If that read is not wide open, he either takes off running or forces the balls into the coverage resulting in incompletions, picks, or lit up receivers. In my opinion, this is the type of boom or bust prospect (example: Jamarcus Russel) that gets GMs fired if they don't (and rarely) pan out. The sticking point for this pick for the Colts could be newly hired Head Coach Shane Steichen, who just coached Jalen Hurts to an MVP caliber season as the Eagles Offensive Coordinator. He might value the potential and mobility of Richardson to run his zone based rushing attack that incorporates a heavy use of read option plays in his scheme.

Even though I stated my trepidation with drafting Young a few spots higher, his value is to good to pass on here. With every roster decision made in the offseason, and the comments from this new regime, QB is the only real position of consideration here.

Pick 5. Seattle Seahawks

GM Erick- Jalen Carter, DT Georgia

GM Schneider- Jalen Carter, DT Georgia

This is a dream scenario for Seattle. They watched the QB's fly off the board and select a "blue chip" player in Carter. While he has some off field issues swirling around him and some less than stellar testing at his pro day, he was the most dominant DT in college football the last two seasons.

Pick 6. Detroit Lions

GM Erick- Devon Witherspoon, CB Illinois

GM Holmes- Tyree Wilson, Edge Texas Tech

Since the Lions just traded their oft injured 2020 first round CB, Jeff Okudah, they now have the need to add Witherspoon, the best CB in college football in 2022. While he does not have elite measurables (6'0,190), he is as aggressive, physical, and confident as they come. He embodies the exact style of play that Dan Campbell instituted in Detroit and gives the defense another building block to get them to the playoffs.

While Wilson has all the measurables you look for in an Edge, he is still a little raw for me often winning with pure athleticism rather than technique. With some more development and discipline he has a chance to convert his elite athletic profile to NFL success and pairing him with last year's round one pick, Aiden Hutchinson, gives the Lions a nightmare of rushers off the edge.

Pick 7. Las Vegas Raiders

GM Erick- Christian Gonzales, CB Oregon

GM Ziegler- Will Levis, QB Kentucky

Gonzalez is an interesting prospect. He has good size (6'1, 190) and an elite RAS (9.95), but didn't have much production in his first three seasons at Colorado but exploded onto the scene this past year at Oregon. Was it the scheme difference? Was it a maturation of the player? Was it a fluke? While I doubt it was the latter, one has to wonder why his production didn't come sooner. Either way, the Raiders infuse some much-needed talent into their secondary.

This is another spot for a trade out with some of the top QB still left on the board, but Zeigler decides to grab one here for Las Vegas. While the Raiders signed Garoppolo in the offseason, he is nothing more than a bridge QB and with his injury history there is almost zero guarantee he will start all 17 games next season. If Levis were the pick he could sit and watch for a season but would most likely be an injury fill in at some point in 2023.

Pick 8. Atlanta Falcons

GM Erick- Tyree Wilson, Edge Texas Tech

GM Fontenot- Christian Gonzalez, CB Oregon

The Falcons have been in desperate need for some pass rush since John Abraham left and with Wilson slipping to them here, they finally address the position.

Pairing Gonzalez with AJ Terrell might give the Falcons the best CB duo in the division. With an improved defense and an ascending offense under Head Coach Arthur Smith, Atlanta might be primed to take the tumultuous NFC South in 2023.

Pick 9. Chicago Bears

GM Erick- Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern

GM Pace- Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern

After acquiring pick #9 and DJ Moore from the Panthers for pick #1, there is no longer a glaring need at WR, so why not help Justin Fields by adding to the OL? After reaching for OT Teven Jenkins in round 2 of the 2021 draft, the Bears struck gold in round 5 last year finding LT Braxton Jones. The biggest knock on Skoronski is his short arms (32 ¼ inches) which is why some pundits are projecting him to kick inside to guard, but he has the technique and feet to play on the edge. This is a perfect scenario for Chicago who, rumor has it, have been toying with the idea of kicking Jenkins inside. Skoronski gives them the flexibility to set the line either way.

Pick 10. Philadelphia Eagles

GM Erick- Miles Murphy, Edge Clemson

GM Roseman- Devon Witherspoon, CB Illinois

The Eagles are in a great spot here. Since their roster is pretty loaded, they can sit back and take the BPA with this pick. The DL and pass rush have been a staple of this team's success over the last half decade, and with them possibly losing some bodies there next offseason, they fortify the pass rush with the best Edge left on the board in Murphy.

Even though the Eagles re-signed James Bradberry and Darius Slay back and also brought in Greedy Williams, the CB room is not that deep or young. Here they bring in the top CB in the draft and set themselves up for any potential cap casualties at the position next off season.

Pick 11- Tennessee Titans

GM Erick- Jaxson Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

GM Carthon- Paris Johnson, OT Ohio State

The Titans are in a mild rebuild. They just jettisoned longtime LT Taylor Lewan and last season's pickup Robert Woods. While they could look to add to the OL, they signed former first round pick Andre Dillard for LT and have last year's pick Nicholas Petit-Frere at RT. While I don't think OL is a glaring issue, drafting Paris Johnson to play LT really solidifies the line.

CB could be a possibility since former first round pick Caleb Farley is made of straw, but they have two good starters in McCreary and Fulton (even though I think McCreary is better suited for the slot). Since the starting CB's seem set, WR becomes the focus. After last year's first round pick, Treylon Burks, the WR room consists of Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Reggie Roberson Jr, Mason Kinsey, Kyle Philips (underrated Slot WR) and Racy Mcmath. None of those names outside of Burks really move the needle for me. Adding Njigba gives either Tannehill or Willis a technical route runner with versatility both outside or in the slot and would immediately become the best WR on the roster.

Pick 12- Houston Texans

GM Erick- Quentin Johnston, WR TCU

GM Caserio- Jaxson Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

Outside of Nico Collins there is not another starting caliber WR on the roster over 6'2 and losing Brandin Cooks really saps this unit of top end speed. Adding Robert Woods and Dalton Schultz help with the short to intermediate passing game, but Johnston has the size and speed to threaten vertically into the deep third of the field to take the top off the defense. He has the body control and quickness to also take slants and mesh routes to pay dirt. Especially if Caserio selects a QB with pick #2, this gives him a physical freak at WR to evolve with. However, Big 12 WR's have a less than stellar track record in the NFL recently.

Pick 13- Green Bay Packers

GM Erick- Dalton Kincaid, TE Utah

GM Gutekunst- Nolan Smith, Edge Georgia

This pick can go a ton of different ways as there are some offensive and defensive players left on the board that will fill a need for the Packers. With the loss of Robert Tonyan and Alan Lazard this offseason, the offensive skill positions have some holes in it. If they are trusting Jordan Love to take over, they should be surrounding him with as many weapons as possible and what better friend is there to a young, inexperienced signal caller than a pass catching TE? While Kincaid is not the most complete TE in the draft, he is the most dynamic offensive weapon among them. Pairing him with Christian Watson, Aaron Jones and Romeo Doubs is a nice start to an explosive offense.

The reason to believe in Smith as the pick has solely to do with the Packers not valuing offensive skill position players with first round picks. Adding him to the DL with Rashan Gary and Preston Smith really beefs up the pass rush and he can take over in a year or two when Smith moves on. Especially with the high-powered offenses in Detroit and Minnesota, adding to the defense might be the best way to get back in contention for the division.

Pick 14- New England Patriots

GM Erick- Brian Branch, DB Alabama

GM Belichick- Miles Murphy, Edge Clemson

As much as I have tried, I cannot shake the fit of Branch to the Patriots. There are just to many variables that point to this selection. Branch is the most versatile DB in the draft. As a safety he can play in the box or cover the deep third and can even come down and play man from the slot. He is the moveable chess piece that Belichick craves in his secondary. Add this in with the fact that he played for Alabama and Devin McCourty just retired, and this pick almost makes itself.

Miles Murphy does not feel like a typical Patriot pick, but he is the best Edge left on the board and Belichick stops his slide here. Pairing him with Matt Judon gives the Pats another pass rush weapon.

Pick 15- New York Jets

GM Erick- Broderick Jones, OT Georgia

GM Douglas- Broderick Jones, OT Georgia

Assuming this pick is not part of the Aaron Rodgers deal, the Jets can use this pick in a few directions. I am sure Robert Saleh would love to add some defensive help with players like Lucas Van Ness, Nolan Smith and Brian Branch still available, but they choose to fortify the offensive trench by bringing Jones into the fold. Former first round OT Mekhi Becton might eat himself out of the league and cannot stay healthy and the other projected possible LT, Duane Brown is a little long in the tooth. Since Max Mitchell played so well as a rookie last year at RT, selecting Jones gives them the flexibility to keep Vera Tucker at RG and Mitchell at RT. At worst, Jones would be insurance against Becton hitting the buffet table again in the offseason or even flipping him over to RT and placing Mitchell into a swing role.

Pick 16- Washington Commanders

GM Erick- Joey Porter Jr, CB Penn State

GM- Mayhew- Joey Porter Jr, CB Penn State

The Commanders roster is pretty decent. They are good on both lines and have good offensive skill position players. If the QB play improves, they could challenge for the division. While it was tempting to add to the offense with a new TE, the most glaring hole was at CB, so we selected the top one left on the board. Porter is my favorite CB in the draft. He is big, aggressive, and physical. He is best in press man where he can use his size to bully receivers. While his aggressiveness is an asset, he will have to learn to play with more discipline. He was able to get away with his physicality in pass coverage in college, but those plays will be flags in the NFL.

Pick 17- Pittsburgh Steelers

GM Erick- Paris Johnson Jr, OT Ohio State

GM Khan- Darnell Wright, OT Tennessee

The biggest need for the Steelers is on the OL, when your projected starting tackles are Dan Moore Jr and Chukwuma Okorafor. I could see a scenario where Pittsburgh trades up to nail down OT in case they start flying off the board, but either way I don't see a way around this position in round one.

Pick 18- Detroit Lions

GM Erick- Lucas Van Ness, Edge Iowa

GM Holmes- Calijah Kancey, DT Pitt

Van Ness is extremely raw with nothing more in his bag than a bull rush, but he has an elite physical profile. With some time to develop he can become a bookend to Aiden Hutchinson, potentially being the best edge duo in the league with the ability (with tags) to be under contract together for the next 6 years.

After solidifying the edges with pick #6 they add more pass rush to the interior of the defense in Kancey. While CB could also be the selection here with the loss of Okudah, the Lions just added Cam Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley in free agency, so it is not a glaring need. They have enough draft capital, and the class is deep enough to grab a CB in the next round.

Pick 19- Tampa Bay Buccaneers

GM Erick- Anton Harrison, OT Oklahoma

GM Licht- Anton Harrison, OT Oklahoma

This Buccaneers team is in flux. Tom Brady retired, leaving a question mark at QB. They brought in Baker Mayfield as a stop gap in case Kyle Trask is not the long-term answer, so if Anthony Richardson ever fell this far or even got to a few picks higher where Tampa could trade up, he would no doubt be the pick (not for me). If they are indeed rolling with a Mayfield/Trask option at QB, then the biggest hole is on this OL. While they just signed Chargers castoff Matt Feiler, he is better suited to play a guard spot than he would be at OT. Tristan Wirfs has been the best RT in football since the day he was drafted, and I guess they could flip him to LT if they wanted to, but in this scenario, they get a proven LT prospect in Harrison to solidify the ends of the starting OL.

Pick-20- Seattle Seahawks

GM Erick- Jordan Addison, WR USC

GM Schneider- Quentin Johnston, WR TCU

Seattle could go in a multitude of ways with this pick as it is their second of the round.

Tyler Lockett is at that age where players of his skill set start to lose a step, leaving DJ Metcalf as the only true threat at WR. Addison (or Johnston) can come in immediately and give them the flexibility to slide Lockett inside and eventually take over for him. Add in a decent TE in Noah Fant and Kenneth Walker at tailback and this offense has the potential to rival San Francisco to be the best unit in the NFC West.

Pick 21- Los Angeles Chargers

GM Erick- Zay Flowers, WR Boston College

GM Telesco- Michael Mayer, TE Notre Dame

Full disclosure, I am not the biggest fan of Tom Telesco, as he hasn't seemed to have the same thought as me on how to build this team. The last three seasons especially, he left himself with a glaring hole on the roster aching to be filled with a first round pick (2020- Herbert, 2021- Slater, 2022-Johnson). This year, the biggest hole is at WR where there are only three starting caliber players on the roster (Allen, Williams, Palmer), and none with game breaking speed or agility. If he was available this pick could have been Jordan Addison, who probably has a higher floor, but Flowers has a higher ceiling. He would immediately give Justin Herbert an element of explosiveness and agility lacking in this offense.

The case for Mayer is twofold. New OC Kellen Moore loves to use the TE in his offense and regularly employs two TE sets. Right now, the only starting caliber TE on the roster is Gerald Everett with an oft injured Donald Parham and below average Tre McKitty rounding out the room. This unit does not seem to be what Moore is looking for in his offense. The second case to be made is that Telesco absolutely loves his Notre Dame players, as he has selected a golden domer in five of his ten drafts.

Pick 22- Baltimore Ravens

GM Erick- Deonte Banks, CB Maryland

GM Decosta- Brian Branch, DB Alabama

These selections were made with the full assumption that Lamar Jackson will be back with the team once the dust settles. Since they just added Odell, WR is less of an immediate need and can be addressed later in the draft. Outside of Marlon Humphrey, the CB room doesn't have much top end talent. Banks has the length and athleticism to play outside or in the slot and probably addresses the most pressing need on the defense. Depending on who is available later in the draft, I wouldn't be surprised to see them double dip at that position.

Branch's versatility is his selling point here as he has slot CB skills. Pairing him with Kyle Hamilton on the back end would be just so fun to watch.

Pick 23- Minnesota Vikings

GM Erick- Brian Bresee, DT Clemson

GM Adofo-Mensah- Deonte Banks, CB Maryland

CB is probably the biggest need when looking at the roster, especially after losing Patrick Peterson in free agency. Honestly though, I don't see a huge difference at this point in the draft between Banks and players like Cam Smith, Kelee Ringo, Kyu Blu Kelly, Julius Brents and Clark Phillips, some of whom will be available in later rounds.

DT on the other hand is a weaker position group with Bresee arguably the last round one graded talent. While he doesn't provide much pass rush from the interior, he has the athleticism to develop in that area while coming in and being a plus run defender immediately.

Pick 24- Jacksonville Jaguars

GM Erick- Michael Mayer, TE Notre Dame

GM Baalke- Dalton Kincaid, TE Utah

The Jags surprisingly gave the franchise tag to Evan Engram, keeping him around for another year in case they can't reach a long-term deal. They also added Calvin Ridley at the trade deadline last year so the passing offense might be even better in Doug Pederson's second year. Adding Kincaid gives them another vertical threat from the slot and gives them the ability to walk away from Engram next offseason. Lawrence proved that with competent coaching, he is indeed a franchise QB. Giving your best player more weapons is never a bad approach.

If Mayer was added, they would be getting the most complete TE in the draft and someone who should be a staple of the offense for the next 5-10 years.

Pick 25- New York Giants

GM Erick- John Michael Schmitz, G/C Minnesota

GM Shoen- Jordan Addison, WR USC

While WR was the absolute position of need before free agency began, the team has gone out and added Paris Campbell and re-signed Darius Slayton back. Even with these moves, Addison gives them a day one starter in the slot with the ability to play outside and adds some youth to the room if they decide to part ways with Sterling Shephard this offseason or next.

It has been a slow transition to rebuild the offensive line in New York, but it looks like it is finally coming together with first round picks with Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal locking down the two tackle spots, but the interior of the line could still use some work. O' Cyrus Torrence was a consideration here, but the ability to play Center gave Schmitz the nod.

Pick 26- Dallas Cowboys

GM Erick- Bijan Robinson, RB Texas

GM Jones- Bijan Robinson, RB Texas

We all know Jerry loves his shiny toys, so the temptation to take Bijan could be to overwhelming and the departure of Zeke creates a need. This also gives them the option to keep Pollard in his time share/change of pace role where he has thrived the last few seasons.

Pick 27- Buffalo Bills

GM Erick- O'Cyrus Torrence, IOL Florida

GM Beane- Zay Flowers, WR Boston College

The Bills might have the most complete roster in the league, and it is hard to find a true deficiency. LB could be a need as they lost Tremaine Edmunds in free agency, but the class is weak and RB is a question after also losing Singletary, but Bijan is already off the board. The IOL consists of journeymen Mitch Morse (C), Connor McGovern (G) and Ryan Bates (G), which just screams for an upgrade, especially if they want to stay balanced on offense with the running game. Torrence is the best IOL in the draft and can plug into a guard spot immediately.

Adding another weapon for Josh Allen could be what this team needs to finally get over the hump and reach the Super Bowl. Flowers gives them another moveable weapon that can work either the short to intermediate level of the field but has enough long speed and stacking ability to be a vertical threat.

Pick 28- Cincinnati Bengals

GM Erick- Darnell Washington, TE Georgia

GM Tobin- Cam Smith, CB South Carolina

After signing OT Orlando Brown to a monster contract in free agency, the offensive line is pretty much set, and the defensive front seven is solid as well. Adding Washington at TE would complete the offense. He is the best blocking TE in the class, and he offers a huge target in the passing game. Adding him to an offense with Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon is an embarrassment of riches.

2022 second round pick Cam Taylor-Britt came in last year and established himself as a solid starter right away. While the other starting CB, Chidobe Awuzie, has been serviceable, the Bengals could still look for an upgrade especially if they are trying to overcome the potent offenses of the Chiefs and Bills to get back to the Super Bowl. Cam Smith can come in immediately and be the nickel CB with the possibility to take over for Awuzie on the outside.

Pick 29- New Orleans Saints

GM Erick- Calijah Kancey, DT Pitt

GM Loomis- Lukas Van Ness, Edge Iowa

The Saints are running the Michael Thomas experiment back again along with Chris Olave to be the top two passing game options. The TE room is serviceable with Juwan Johnson and Adam Trautman, so there was no real pressing need there. The IDL could use an injection of talent as newly acquired Kalen Saunders is the only player of note. While Kancey is not your typical run stuffing DT, he will provide interior pass rush to push the pocket and hopefully give Cam Jordan more one on one matchups on the outside.

Van Ness is a polarizing player as he was not a starter at Iowa and he is being projected more on traits and testing than production and could be drafted in the top 15 players based on his elite physical profile. If he is able to develop his pass rush skills to turn his elite athleticism into production, he could be a Pro Bowl level player off the edge.

Pick 30- Philadelphia Eagles

GM Erick- Nolan Smith, Edge Georgia

GM Roseman- Brian Bresee, DT Clemson

This is truly a luxury pick for the Eagles who don't have many needs and I could totally see this pick being traded out on draft night. Nolan Smith has top 15 talent, but his recovery from a torn pec and his slightly light frame dropped him this far. With the Eagles set to lose some talent on the D line next year, bringing Smith in makes a ton of sense and you can never have to much pass rush. While I don't think he will be on the board at this pick on draft night, his upside is to tantalizing to pass on here.

With such a loaded roster and having already had a top ten selection, the Eagles can go BPA with this pick. The recent Eagles success under GM Howie Roseman has been due to the great play in the trenches on both sides of the ball. With the potential loss of some DL talent next off season, Bresee is the selection. He is an exceptional athlete for the position, but his spotty motor and inconsistent play are his biggest concern. Here he gets to come into a stacked DL rotation where he can develop into becoming a 3-down player in the future.

Pick 31- Kansas City Chiefs

GM Erick- Darnell Wright, OT Tennessee

GM- Veach- Will McDonald, Edge Iowa State

This couldn't have lined up any better for KC. They let Orlando Brown walk in free agency and quickly signed Jacksonville cast off Jawaan Taylor as a LT replacement. Getting Wright here gives them the ability to flip Taylor to RT and slide Lucas Niang back to a swing tackle spot where he is probably best suited anyway.

Of course, should they feel that the OT combo of Taylor and Niang are suitable, they could always look to add to the pass rush with McDonald. Outside of second year pro George Karlaftis, there is really no other edge presence on the defense. While McDonald will need to increase his functional strength and technique, he has a good blend of quickness and burst.

** Other quality prospects that could be round one selections**

Mazi Smith, DT Michigan - Massive, powerful DT that is best suited to take on double teams and clog running lanes letting his LB scrape and chase to make tackles. His biggest flaw is his motor where he is not consistently playing full speed, but he could be a force as a rotational DT.

Emmanuel Forbes, CB Mississippi State - Forbes has been getting a ton of buzz in the latter half of the pre-draft process for his exceptional coverage abilities. The biggest knock on him is his extremely slight frame and weight. At 6'1 and only 166 pounds, the guy is built like a rail and there are serious doubts that he can hold up in the NFL, but his skill set is worthy of a first round selection.

Jahmyr Gibbs, RB Alabama - Speed, speed, speed, that is Gibbs game as every touch could be a house call. While he has game breaking ability, his frame and running style is not that of an every down back who is going to stick his nose in there and get the tough yardage. He is best suited as change of pace back that will need manufactured touches (screens, swing passes, jet sweeps) to be effective where he can use his speed and agility on the perimeter of the defense.

Kelee Ringo, CB Georgia - Elite physical tools and superior in man coverage. He has the strength and fluidity to play outside or come into the slot to cover big body WR and TE. He is also a plus run defender as he is a strong tackler from the secondary. While he might be the most physically gifted CB in the draft, he has a serious lack of instincts and route recognition that leave him relying on his physical tools to bail him out. He also has a habit of being overly grabby when beaten in the route and could be a flag machine in the NFL. Under the right coaching to reign in his aggressiveness, refine his ability and become more of a student of the game, he could be an All Pro.

Jalin Hyatt, WR Tennessee - Like Jahmyr Gibbs, Hyatt's game is built on speed. He is a track star with pads on. If he's even, he's leavin'. While he was extremely productive in his last season at Tennessee, he doesn't have much diversity to his game. His route tree was limited and to often he was able to get a free release as they used him in motion at the snap or off set from the line of scrimmage. Unless he can add some diversity to his route running and add some more functional and play strength to beat press man, he might only be successful as a gadget player or a go route specialist who's only job is to take the top off the defense.

Drew Sanders, LB Arkansas - Linebacker might be the weakest position group in the draft, but Sanders is still a quality prospect for the position. While I don't think he is a three down, day one MLB in the Luke Keuchly mold, he is best suited to be a move LB that can play in the middle or out on the edge. He is a fantastic blitzer and finisher where he can use his athleticism to win either outside or inside, but he is not going to be the traditional middle of the defense thumper who is going to shed blocks and make tackles. Pigeonholing him into that role would be a waste of his skillset.

Keion White, Edge Georgia Tech - White is a freak athlete, who is extremely raw at the position as he wins with pure athleticism alone. He has excellent flexibility as his bend and burst around the edge are his calling card, but he has excellent functional strength at the POA to bully lineman as well. While he will need to develop his skillset to reach his full potential, he has the raw athletic profile to develop into a star. He will be 24 on draft day because of the Covid seasons, but a team might overlook that in round one in order to lock him up to the edge of his prime on a rookie contract.

Jack Campbell, LB Iowa - If you are looking for a diverse, athletic player at MLB, Campbell is not your man. He is a traditional lunchpail MLB that will rack up a ton of tackles and deliver punishing hits. He has an extremely high football IQ where he can diagnose and react quickly to make plays. While he does not have the sideline-to-sideline range of a Ray Lewis, he has enough speed to cover most of the field. He can be effective on A and B gap blitzes and do a decent job in zone coverage as well. While MLB is a position that is a little rich for the first round, Campbell has the potential to be a perennial Pro Bowler. A year or two from now, teams will be kicking themselves for not drafting him.

Dawand Jones, OT Ohio State - Jones is an absolute behemoth of a human at 6'8, 374. While he has decent feet, his best attribute is his size, wingspan, and physicality. With his limited athletic ability, he is most likely a RT only, but he can be effective there using his huge frame, long arms and wide base to wall off defenders on the edge and be a road grader as a run blocker. While he has the power and size to dominate any size defender, he can be susceptible to speed around his edge, so he might need to be protected with a TE or H back in certain formations. Scheme fit will also be critical to his success as he does not have the athleticism to be effective in space either in wide zone rushing offense or power schemes that ask him to pull regularly and attack on the move.

Adetomiwa Adebawore, Edge Northwestern - Adebawore absolutely torched the NFL Combine in Indianapolis where he ran a 4.49 forty with a 1.61 split. From an athletic testing profile, he graded out as the #1 DT at the combine. The biggest concern over him as a prospect is that he is a little light (280 lb) to play inside and a little short (6'2) to play on the edge, but he has an athletic profile, from a DL perspective, that coaches will be salivating over. He is probably best suited to play DE in a 3-4 alignment, or initially as a rotational sub package player in pass rush situations. However, his frame, while not long, still has enough room to add some weight and strength to develop into an every down player in a season or two. This is truly a player that will be drafted off projection, but his insane athleticism cannot be ignored.

Trenton Simpson, LB Clemson- Simpson is another player that showcased his speed on film and backed it up with a 4.43 forty at the combine. While Simpson played regularly as an inside LB at Clemson, he does not fit a typical MLB profile at the NFL level where his pure athleticism could be misused. His play style matches that of former Clemson star, Isaiah Simmons, where he could be used as a defensive chess piece to line up all over the field. While he doesn't possess the size of Simmons, he is probably a better overall athlete that wins with speed from sideline to sideline. Position bias might hurt his draft stock as 3-4 weakside linebackers that are not pass rush specialists, where he projects best, are not typically round one picks.

Hendon Hooker, QB Tennessee - Hooker is not a prospect I would spend a first round pick on, but with QB a need for many teams he could be a selection there. Hooker had a fantastic senior season for the Vols last year putting up elite numbers before his ACL tear. He has a quick, accurate release, strong arm and also has mobility to make plays outside the pocket. He is comparable to Deshaun Watson as a prospect. Hooker is another older prospect that will be 25 on draft night, so you would not be getting to his second contract until he is 30 and makes it even more difficult for him to sit and learn behind a starter for a season or two. Another concern is that the Tennessee offense that he starred in last season is a gadget offense and is not close to anything successfully run in the NFL. If teams are confident in his medicals and don't mind his age issue, then there is enough from a talent perspective to warrant a draft pick. Whether that pick is a first round selection is up to the team selecting him.

Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Edge Kansas State - Uzomah is a high motor player that has fantastic bend to win around the edge and has good play speed to make back side tackles. He is equally adept at playing upright or with his hand in the dirt, so he could be scheme versatile at the next level. FAU displays good speed to power to hold and push the POA and be effective in run defense. His biggest concern is his play recognition as he can be slow to react off the line and diagnose what is happening in front of him. Another issue is that sometimes he is so hell bent on getting up field to make a play that he can overrun it, taking himself out of the play altogether without being blocked. However, finding players with his skill set are not easy to do. With pass rush becoming more of a need in the NFL than ever before, he could hear his name called at the end of round one.

There's my two cents and it's probably worth less than that. Hopefully this gives you a good starting point at understanding some of the team needs and prospects available for round 1 of the NFL Draft. Thanks for reading.


This FanPost was written by a member of the Bolts From The Blue community and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Bolts From The Blue editors or SB Nation.