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. Seahawks- Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
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. Young is seen as one of the best QBs in this class, and his similarities to Wilson could entice Carroll.
3. 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, so instead of taking a chance on the QB3 at best, I could see them taking the best player available here. 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.
4. (Trade from Bears to Giants)- Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
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.
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'll be replacing him next year if he doesn't prove himself as a franchise QB. Paired with the fact that they have a promising team, with one of their few missing pieces being a QB, I could see them feeling the need to trade up for the next best QB here. Levis has been gaining hype recently as one of the top QBs in this class, and his rare combination of mobility, rushing ability, and arm strength could remind the Giants' head coach of his days developing Josh Allen. I also like the irony of this trade, since only a few years after the Giants traded down with the Bears, letting them get their franchise QB in Fields, that the Bears would return the favor here.
5. Jaguars- Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU
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. Personally I think the best WR in this class is Smith-Njigba, but a lot of people are high on Boutte due to his speed and athleticism, and the Jaguars already demonstrated last year by picking Walker over Hutchinson that they prioritize high upside/potential.
6. 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.
7. (Trade from Giants to Bears)- Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
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 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.
8. 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.
9. (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 miss 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.
10. Commanders- Keelo Ringo, CB, Georgia
The Commanders have a solid roster, should get improved QB play with their addition of Wentz, 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 CB1, getting the best CB in the class makes sense for them.
11. Texans- Bryan Breese, DL, Clemson
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 their backup QB having to start for 11 games, so it seems unlikely that they'll finish much better than this.
The Texans' D-line was so ineffective at rushing the passer and at stopping the run last year, that I could see them double-dipping on the position. Now that they have their franchise edge-rusher in Anderson, they can use this pick to get the next best interior D-lineman.
12. Titans- Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
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. 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.
13. (Trade from Panthers to Cowboys)- Antonio Johnson, S, Texas A&M
In this scenario, I have us barely missing out on the playoffs, since I'm not a big believer in McAdoo's offense, and I think it will take some time for our O-line to play up to their potential. While it's too early to say if this would be a good enough finish to save Rhule's job, or whether it would be worth keeping Mayfield, we definitely would have put ourselves outside of a position to take any of the top QBs. If that happens, I could see us trading back to try and recoup the 3rd round pick that we lost in the Corral trade.
Jerry Jones is not known to be a patient owner, so after failing to win their divsion, and once again failing to make it out of the 1st round in the playoffs, I could see him feeling the need to trade up for the missing piece to their potential championship team. Also, it doesn't hurt that McCarthy willl be on the hot seat going forward, and their recent cuts of starting players tells them that they have a limited window to win with their expensive team. 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 the best safety in the class here.
14. Steelers- Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
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.
15. Raiders- Jaquelin Roy, DL, LSU
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 Roy.
16. (Trade from Cardinals to Patriots)- Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama
The Cardinals have a solid roster, but their Free Agent losses, paired with their inability to finish down the stretch, could cause them to barely miss out on the playoffs.
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, and I'm sure Belichick would love to continue his Alabama-New England pipeline.
17. Dolphins- FORFEITED
This is the Dolphins' natural 1st round pick, and it was forfeited after their owner tampered with Brady and Payton.
18. (Trade from Eagles to Packers)- Jordan Addison, WR, USC
This is the pick that the Saints sent to the Eagles as part of their trade-up last year.
The Saints have all the talent of a playoff contender, so I could definitely see them sneaking into a Wild Card spot. However, in this scenario I have them barely missing out on the playoffs due to their Free Agent losses, head coach retiring, potential suspension of Kamara, and their top 10 strength of schedule.
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.
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.
19. Ravens- Quentin Johnson, WR, TCU
From here on out, my projections for where each team will pick will be based off my 2023 playoff predictions (https://www.catscratchreader.com/2022/8/28/23285643/preseason-nfl-playoff-predictions)
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, so it would make sense to use this pick on the next best WR.
20. Vikings- Andre Carter, Edge, Army
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.
21. Chargers- Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
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.
22. (Trade from Cowboys to Panthers)- Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon
Assuming we either re-sign or franchise-tag Mayfield, then our biggest position of need will most certainly be LB, since we've lacked a true playmaker in the middle of our defense ever since Kuechly retired. As such, it would make sense to use this pick on arguably the best LB in the class here.
23. Colts- Zion Nelson, OT, Miami
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. Unfortunately for them, all of the true 1st round talents have already been taken, and their GM normally avoids reaching in the draft. So inetasd, they address their 2nd biggest need by getting the next best OT to finally replace their retired LT.
24. Eagles- Bradon Joseph, S, Notre Dame
Between Slay and Bradberry, the Eagles have a solid secondary, however they lack quality options at safety, so getting the next best safety in the class here makes sense for them.
25. Dolphins- Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
This is the pick that the 49ers sent to the Dolphins as part of their trade-up for Lance.
This is arguably the worst case scenario for the Dolphins, not only since they failed to make the playoffs, but also since the pick they got from the 49ers turned out to be terrible value. In this scenario, Tua once again failed to get them into the playoffs despite all of their new talent, yet due to their forfeited pick, they aren't in position to select any of the top QBs. As such, it would make sense for them to just keep Tua and continue to surround him with talent. 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.
26. Seahawks- Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia
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)- Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State
The Eagles have a great O-line right now, but Lane Johnson is a threat to retire at any moment, so they should plan for his eventual departure by getting the next best OT here.
28. Bengals- Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
The Bengals still have Eli Apple as one of their starting CBs, and considering how badly he was roasted in the Super Bowl, getting the next best CB here makes sense for them.
29. Lions- Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
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 49ers)- Garrett Williams, CB, Syracuse
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.
The 49ers' know that it will be very hard to keep their talented team together once they're forced to pay Lance, so to take advantage of his rookie contract, I could see them trading up into the 1st round. Considering they've lacked a true CB1 ever since Sherman retired, it would make sense for them to get the next best CB here.
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 retired this offseason, and their signing of Rudolph is only a 1-year rental, 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.