ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper has dropped his fourth mock draft of draft season. He flip-flops again on the No. 1 pick, while predicting an early trade down that gives us four quarterbacks with the first four picks of the draft. Let’s take a look.
McShay followed the wind when he switched his No. 1 pick from Bryce Young to CJ Stroud in his last mock, but the wind has shifted and he’s back onto Young. After being the heavy favorite for a few weeks following the combine, Stroud is back to No. 2 with +180 odds to be first, while Young is at -250, per DraftKings Sportsbook. Those odds have been a rollercoaster of late though, so could easily could change.
This is the way many mocks are moving, as quarterbacks stack up at front, but the first I’ve seen that has four quarterbacks in the first four picks. McShay has the Tennessee Titans moving up in a trade with the Arizona Cardinals for the No. 3 pick, where they grab Anthony Richardson, while the Colts stay put at 4 overall and grab Kentucky’s Will Levis.
McShay also has a late first-round trade, as the Seahawks trade up with the Eagles to snag Hendon Hooker. Hooker has been moving up draft boards and Seattle is a good spot for him to work behind Geno Smith as he heals and learns.
First defensive player taken
With the Cardinals moving down to pick 11, Kiper has the Seahawks grabbing the first defensive player, DT Jalen Carter, ahead of Will Anderson with the No. 5 pick. No definitive news has come out about how the Seahawks and Lions feel about Carter’s off-field red flags, but it sure appears that the majority of teams are going to lean toward his superior ability versus his reckless driving charge and poor pro day performance.
That leaves Anderson to go to the Lions with pick No. 6, which would likely be an automatic pick for them.
Running back Zach Charbonnet to the Bengals late in the second round feels like a strong place to grab him. Maybe they end up with Bijan Robinson or Jahmyr Gibbs, but this move makes more sense for their team, as they can use Trayveon Williams alongside Charbonnet for less money than keeping Joe Mixon around, while also likely upping the upside of the RB group.
The Steelers could use a rookie receiver, especially if they aren’t sold on Diontae Johnson longterm, but they need offensive line and secondary help more. McShay has Zay Flowers going to Pittsburgh at 17 and I don’t like the pick, while I also don’t think it will happen.
The Steelers are known for getting wide receiver pick right and this year’s draft is set up for them to find a strong Day 2 receiver again, just like they did with George Pickens last year.
The question this mock brings up is whether or not these QB needy teams are sold on Richardson in Levis with the 3rd and 4th overall picks. It really isn’t a given that they are, but they also are between a rock and a hard place and need to find a quarterback. How these teams navigate the early picks will be fascinating.