Ever since the end of the Super Bowl, the focus around the NFL media landscape has turned to the draft, with countless mock drafts being put out seemingly every day. But now those mock drafts are reaching their final editions as draft night approaches.
NBC’s Peter King released his final first-round mock draft of the year Monday morning and it’s got a load of surprises and potential trades. Let's dig into the most notable things from King’s mock draft.
The most notable one hits you square in the face as soon as you open up the webpage. Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson isn’t the first-overall pick. Instead, he has Travon Walker, a defensive end from Georgia, as the first player selected by Jacksonville. He was always thought to go in the first round, but Hutchinson has been the guy at the top of draft boards for seemingly months at this point, so this is a bit of a shock. That means King has Hutchinson staying home though, getting selected by the Detroit Lions second overall.
At number eight overall, King has the Falcons selecting a wide receiver, which is a significant position of need. But instead of Garrett Wilson, he has them picking Drake London out of USC. Wilson is the next projected pick at number nine by the Houston Texans. King projects that Houston will trade their 13th overall pick and a later round choice to Seattle to get this dynamic pass-catcher from Ohio State. The WR train keeps rolling, with four of them picked in a row. Rounding out the flurry of pass-catchers off the board are Alabama’s Jameson Williams to the Jets and Chris Olave, from Ohio State, to the Washington Commanders.
The Seahawks make a surprise pick with that 13th overall choice they got from Houston, too. They go with edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux from Oregon. It’s not a surprise that he goes to Seattle, who needs help everywhere on the defensive side, but Thibodeaux was the projected number one overall pick during his final season with the Ducks. He didn’t test particularly well, but dropping out of the top 5, let alone the top 10, is pretty wild for a talent like Thibodeaux.
There are several more shocking things that came from this mock draft, but the last we’ll discuss here is the quarterback situation. King doesn’t have a single QB going off the board until No. 20 overall and he has just two selected in the first round. Even more of a shock is that neither signal-caller having their name called in this mock draft is Malik Willis. King has Kenny Pickett, Pitt’s QB, getting selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers at 20 overall. Then in the final pick of the first round he has Atlanta, in a trade with Detroit, getting back into the first round to pick up Ole Miss QB Matt Corral.
That’s a bold guess considering Willis has skyrocketed up people’s draft boards thanks to his sheer athleticism and high ceiling. Granted, this is a weak QB class, but Willis has massive boom or bust potential, which usually means a team will reach on a QB early on in the night. NFL Draft odds right now have Willis as a favorite to be a Top-10 pick.
Check out the rest of King’s mock draft here.