1. Falcons- C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Considering the Falcons don't have much talent, will be relying on Marcus Mariota as their starting QB, and have the 9th hardest strength of schedule, I would not be surprised at all to see them get the #1 pick next year. If that does happen, the Falcons can then use this #1 pick on the best QB in this class to replace their former #1 pick in Ryan as the face of their franchise.
2. (Trade from Bears to Panthers)- Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
The Bears finally found themselves a franchise QB in Fields, but unfortunately for them they've failed to surround him with much talent. They traded their best defensive player in Mack, let their best offensive player in Robinson leave in Free Agency, and didn't have a 1st round pick this year to help their team. So now they're going into next season with a QB who still needs development, a 1st year head coach, an O-line that was one of the worst in the league, and few WRs for Fields to rely on. They could finish better than this since they still have some talent on defense, as well as one of the easiest strengths of schedule in the NFC, but I think a top 4 pick for them is still likely. Considering they already have their franchise QB in Fields, if they were to finish with a pick this high, it would make sense for them to trade down with a team that desperately wants one of the top QBs from this loaded class.
If we finish with another top 10 pick next year, as I'm predicting us to do in this mock draft, that most likely means two things: Rhule has been fired, and neither Darnold nor Corral proved that they could be a franchise QB. While it is unfair to Corral to give up on him after only one season, he is only a 3rd round pick, and our next coaching staff would very likely want to draft their own guy. Considering how aggressive Tepper has been in trying to acquire a franchise QB, I could see us trading up for one of the top QBs from this class, and many consider Young to either be the best or 2nd best QB.
3. Seahawks- Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
The Seahawks had a solid draft, but considering their starting QB next year will either be Geno Smith or Drew Lock, paired with them having the 11th hardest strength of schedule, and I could see them finishing with an early pick. They just traded Wilson, and didn't draft or trade for a QB in the offseason, so it almost seems like a guarantee that they would use this pick to replace him. Levis has been gaining hype recently as one of the top QBs in this class, and I could see Carroll falling in love with his mobility, arm strength, and experience playing in a run-first offense.
4. Texans- Will Anderson, Edge, Alabama
The Texans had a solid draft and offseason, but they still lost their franchise QB in Watson, and don't have much talent on the team, so they should have an early pick in 2023. If they do end up picking this high next year, that most likely means that Mills sucked, so they could easily use this pick on the next best QB to replace him. However, the Texans' coaching staff seems to genuinely believe in Mills, and there isn't really a consensus on who the QB4 of this class is, so I could see them taking the best player available instead. In that case, it would make sense to use this pick on the best pass-rusher in this class to finally replace Watt. It also doesn't hurt that the Texans' GM has shown a tendency to draft Alabama players.
5. Jaguars- Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
The Jaguars should improve after having a solid offseason paired with having an easy strength of schedule, but I don't see them finishing much better than this due to the various holes on their roster. One of those holes would be their skill position players, since even though they spent a lot of money on WRs in Free Agency, none of them are a true WR1. So, in order to help Lawrence develop to his full potential, it would make sense to get the best WR in the class here, especially since they have an offensive-minded coach who supposedly really wanted to take an offensive player with their 1st overall pick last year.
6. Lions- Tyler Van Dyke, QB, Miami
The Lions have some solid talent on their team, and a very easy strength of schedule, but unfortunately for them, Jared Goff is still their starting QB, so they shouldn't expect too much improvement. Considering Goff will only have one year left on his contract, the Lions would be wise to use this pick on their next franchise QB. For a coach who wants his team to be "kneecap biters", getting a guy whose nickname is "Big Dick Van Dyke" seems like a good fit for them.
7. Jets- Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
The Jets had a really good offseason, and have a decent strength of schedule, so they should expect some improvement this season. The Jets don't really have any dire needs, but Sheldon Rankins is going into the last year of his contract, and I'm sure their defensive-minded head coach would love a talented, versatile D-lineman like Carter on his team, especially since he was considered the best player from Georgia's historic defense.
8. (Trade from Panthers to Bears)- Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU
We should expect some improvement this year since we did a great job of upgrading our O-line, but unfortunately I wouldn't expect too much of an improvement, since it will take a while for our O-line to develop chemistry, we have a relatively hard strength of schedule, and Darnold is still our projected starter.
Considering the Bears let their best WR walk in Free Agency, only used a 3rd round pick on the position last year, and want Fields to develop into a true franchise QB, it would make sense for them to get the next best WR here to be his new WR1.
9. Giants- Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Similar to the Jets, the Giants also had a really good draft, so they should expect some solid improvement this year, especially since they have one of the easiest strengths of schedule in the NFL. However, Daniel Jones is still their starting QB, and Barkley is a threat to get injured whenever he touches the field, so their expectations should be tempered. Considering the Giants recently declined Jones' 5th year option, and have a new front office that don't have to stick with a guy they didn't draft, it seems very likely that they would use this pick to replace him if they finish with another top 10 pick. Richardson is very raw, but he has rare mobility and arm strength that should remind their head coach of his days developing Josh Allen.
10. (Trade from Dolphins to Eagles)- Keelo Ringo, CB, Georgia
This is the pick that the 49ers sent to the Dolphins as part of their trade-up for Lance. The 49ers have a very talented team, but they'll be breaking in a new QB who probably still needs some development, will be missing their best offensive assistant who was ironically hired by the Dolphins, and will be dealing with the 5th hardest strength of schedule. So unless Lance comes out of the gates guns blazing, I could see them regress this season.
The Dolphins don't have many pressing needs, so they don't mind trading back here and acquiring more picks.
In this scenario, I'm predicting the Eagles to win their division, so it seems highly unlikely that they would package their picks to trade up for a QB to replace Hurts. However, in the past two drafts we have seen the Eagles' GM trade up as well as down in the 1st round, so similar to a kid with ADHD, it seems very unlikely that he'll be able to stay put on draft day. If they do trade up into the top 10, I would imagine that it would be for the best CB in this class to address their questionable secondary.
11. (Trade from Patriots to Cardinals)- Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson
The Patriots did make the playoffs last year, but their team was decimated by Free Agent losses, and their draft was questionable at best. Pair that with a relatively hard strength of schedule, and I could see them finishing with a pick around here. However, Belichick doesn't mind, as he'll try to trade down no matter where his team is picking.
In this scenario, I'm predicting that the Cardinals will just barely make the playoffs, and since their GM is known to be aggressive with trades to turn his team into a contender, I could see him doing so again here. Considering the Cardinals lost their best pass-rusher in Free Agency, only used a 3rd round pick to replace him, and their next best pass-rushers are heading into Free Agency, it would make sense for them to use this pick on the next best edge-rusher.
12. Steelers- Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
Even though Kenny Pickett is seen as the most NFL-ready QB from last year's class, he will most likely still have some growing pains, especially when playing against the 12th hardest strength of schedule. That paired with their aging roster could lead to some regression. With this pick, it would make sense for the Steelers to beef up their trenches by getting the best OT in this class to protect Pickett.
13. Raiders- Bryan Breese, DL, Clemson
The Raiders have a solid roster, but they still have some holes at key positions, they play in the toughest division in the league, and are set to play against the 7th hardest strength of schedule. With all that being said, I could still see them competing for a Wildcard spot, but it all depends on how McDaniels does in his 2nd stint as a head coach. If they were to finish with a pick this high, I imagine they would use it on a talented and versatile interior D-lineman like Breese.
14. Commanders- Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon
The Commanders have a solid roster, should get improved QB play with their additions of Wentz and Howell, and are tied for the easiest strength of schedule in the NFL, so they should expect better results next year. With this pick, I imagine they would want to address their surprisingly bad defense, and considering they still lack a true ILB, getting the best LB in the class makes sense for them.
15. (Trade from Titans to Chargers)- Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
The Titans still have some talent on their team, and a pretty easy strength of schedule, but Tannehill is still their starting QB, and they foolishly traded away their best WR in Brown, so it would be difficult for them to make the playoffs this year. The Titans try to trade down whenever they can, as evidenced by them trading out of the 1st round last year, so I could see them doing so again here.
This offseason has shown us just how aggressive the Chargers' GM is when it comes to turning his team into a contender, as evidenced by their trade for Khalil Mack, and since I'm predicting that they'll go one-and-done in the playoffs this year, I could see them trading up to ensure that doesn't happen again. Even though the Chargers have a solid O-line, they still have yet to replace their starting RT that they released last year, so I could see them getting the next best OT here to protect Herbert. Skoronski especially makes sense since he's versatile enough to play almost any position on their O-line, and since the Chargers have had recent success with drafting O-linemen from Northwestern.
16. Texans- Jordan Addison, WR, Pitt/Transfer Portal
This is the pick that the Browns sent to the Texans as part of their trade for Watson. While the Browns have a very talented team that should be capable of making the playoffs, they also have to deal with a tough division, a stacked conference, and a likely suspension for Watson, so I could see them just missing out.
If the Texans believe in Mills enough to forgo drafting a QB with their earlier pick, then they should do everything possible to help him develop into their franchise QB. Even though they have Cooks and drafted Metchie in the 2nd round last year, their offense still lacks a true WR1, so getting the next best WR here makes sense for them.
17. Bengals- Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama
The Bengals had enough talent to make the Super Bowl last year, and addressed a lot of their needs in Free Agency, but it will be difficult for them to do it again when playing against the 3rd hardest strength of schedule. Also, considering the stacked conference they play in, it will be difficult for them to make the playoffs if they don't win their division. As such, I have them just barely missing the playoffs. With this pick, it would make sense for them to address their atrocious secondary considering how Cooper Kupp was able to singlehandedly beat their entire defense in the Super Bowl.
18. (Trade from Cardinals to Patriots)- Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
From here on out, my projections for where each team will pick will be based off my 2023 playoff predictions (https://www.catscratchreader.com/2022/5/13/23071062/way-too-early-2023-playoff-predictions).
The Patriots desperately need a new CB1 considering they lost Jackson in Free Agency, and now have to play in a division with Hill and Diggs, so getting the next best CB here makes sense for them.
19. (Trade from Eagles to Dolphins)- Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
This is the pick that the Saints sent to the Eagles as part of their trade-up last year.
The Dolphins had a really good offseason, so they don't really have many needs. However, they haven't had an impact player at ILB ever since they released Alonso, and considering they only used a 3rd round pick on the position last year, getting the next best LB here makes sense for them.
20. (Trade from Chargers to Titans)- Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Even though the Titans just used a 1st round pick on a receiver, that was simply to replace Brown, so I imagine that they would want to get another weapon to make their offense more dynamic. Considering how much their offense relies on their TEs, getting arguably the best TE in the class here makes sense for them.
21. Dolphins- Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
The Dolphins have needed a true RB1 for a while now, since they rarely get much from their run game, and they could use a balanced rushing attack to take the pressure off Tua. Even though the Dolphins have rarely invested much in this position, their new head coach is used to employing an RB committee, and 1st round RBs are a dying breed, Robinson is seen as a top 10 talent. In fact, he's considered by many to be the best RB prospect since Barkley, so perhaps his rare talent will cause the Dolphins to make an exception.
22. Cowboys- Brandon Joseph, S, Notre Dame
The Cowboys have lacked a true playmaker at safety for years now, so perhaps this will be the year they finally address the position by getting arguably the best safety in this class here.
23. Ravens- Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina
The Ravens had a really good draft last year, but they did lose their best WR in Brown via trade, and failed to use a single pick on the position. Even though they have a great TE in Andrews, and a solid WR1 in Bateman, they need more weapons if they want to have a reliable passing game with Jackson. As such, it would make sense to use this pick on the next best WR to replace Brown's speed and versatility.
24. (Trade from Packers to Eagles)- Marvin Mims, WR, Oklahoma
In this scenario, I'm predicting the Packers to once again miss out on making the NFC Championship, and since they have an aggressive GM who has a history of making trades on draft day, I could see him doing so again in order to keep their team competitive during the last few years of Rodgers' contract. Even though they did a solid job of finding WR talent in last year's draft, it would make sense to get a true 1st round talent to replace Adams as their WR1.
25. Vikings- Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia
The Vikings' D-line has been getting older and less effective in recent years, so getting the next best D-lineman here makes sense for them.
26. Seahawks- B.J. Ojulari, Edge, LSU
This is the pick that the Broncos sent to the Seahawks as part of their trade for Wilson.
The Seahawks got a solid pass-rusher in Mafe from last year's draft, but the rest of their D-line leaves a lot to be desired, so if they ever want to recreate their Legion of Boom, it would make sense for them to get the next best D-lineman here.
27. (Trade from Packers to Eagles)- Jordan Battle, S, Alabama
Like I said before, the Eagles' GM is simply incapable of staying put on draft day, so I could easily see them trading down again. Considering that Darius Slay is their only reliable talent in the secondary, I could see them double-dipping on the position here.
28. Colts- Quentin Johnson, WR, TCU
The Colts have a very solid roster, including some talented WRs, but getting a true WR1 here would take their offense to the next level.
29. Lions- Henry To'oto'o, LB, Alabama
This is the pick that the Rams sent to the Lions as part of their trade for Stafford.
The Lions have needed LB help for as long as I can remember, so getting the next best LB here makes sense for them.
30. Chiefs- Isaiah Foskey, Edge, Notre Dame
Even though the Chiefs drafted a solid edge-rusher in Karlaftis last year, they're still expected to release their best pass-rusher in Clark after this season, which means it would be wise for them to use this pick to replace him.
31. (Trade from Bills to Browns)- Byron Young, DL, Alabama
The Bills are a very talented team without any dire needs, so instead of reaching for a player that likely isn't a 1st round talent here, they decide to trade down instead.
In this scenario, I'm predicting that the Browns will neither win their division nor make the playoffs. To avoid that happening again, and to capitalize on their Super Bowl window with Watson, I could see them trading up into the 1st round to address their weakest position. Even though they have a very talented D-line, they lack any true threats in the middle, so getting the next best interior D-lineman makes sense for them.
32. Buccaneers- Arik Gilbert, TE, Georgia
Assuming the Buccaneers win the Super Bowl this year, it will be practically guaranteed that Brady will retire so he can go out on top. If that does happen, then the Buccaneers will finally be forced to start Trask. Considering Gronk is either going to retire this year, or next season with Brady, that means the Buccaneers will have a big hole at TE. Pair that with the fact that Trask is used to having a superstar TE from his days playing with Pitts, and getting an athletic receiving weapon like Gilbert makes sense for them.