The NFL Draft is just over a week away. Mock drafts are being released like crazy as everyone is trying their best to predict what will happen in the first round on Thursday, April 27. The LA Times polled NFL beat reporters from around the country and asked them to partake in a mock draft. Trades were off the table, and it was simply who their team would take at that position.
This mock draft begins as many do, with Alabama QB Bryce Young getting selected by the Carolina Panthers. With trades off the table, the Houston Texans went in an interesting direction by selecting EDGE rusher Will Anderson second overall. Again, forced to stay put, the Arizona Cardinals selected EDGE Tyree Wilson allowing CJ Stroud to fall into the Indianapolis Colts’ laps at No. 4.
The mock draft sees several solid selections, with the beat reporters successfully addressing team needs. That doesn’t mean this mock is devoid of head-scratchers. Anthony Richardson fell to No. 18, only to be followed by Hendon Hooker a pick later. Zay Flowers is the second wide receiver off the board to the Baltimore Ravens at No. 22, ahead of Quentin Johnston (No. 23, Minnesota Vikings) and Jordan Addison (No. 27, Buffalo Bills). One notable missing name was QB Will Levis, who has been mocked as high as No. 4 in other drafts.
1. Bryce Young — Carolina Panthers
4. C.J. Stroud — Indianapolis Colts
18. Anthony Richardson — Detroit Lions
19. Hendon Hooker — Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The landing spots are one thing, but the order of these four quarterbacks doesn’t stray too far from the chatter we are hearing leading up to the draft. If Levis had been selected instead of Hooker, you would have had the typical order for the first four quarterbacks selected. If trades were on the table, it is likely we would have seen this type of run happen much earlier.
First defensive player taken
2. Will Anderson — Houston Texans
No surprise here, but the draft does show that the gap between Anderson and Tyree Wilson isn’t as wide as it once was. There have been mocks where Wilson even goes ahead of Anderson, but in this one, they are neck and neck. Jalen Carter is the first DT off the board at No. 5 to the Seattle Seahawks, while the first corner selected was Devon Witherspoon to the Detroit Lions at No. 6. The first and only safety selected was Brian Branch, who landed with the Washington Commanders at No. 16.
21. Dalton Kincaid — Los Angeles Chargers
Really in a draft where you don’t have to worry about trading and can just address team needs, there are a ton of solid picks. There are few in this mock that I would even deem as poor. When it comes to the best, I chose Kincaid. It looked like Michael Mayer was the top tight end in the class, but Kincaid has seemingly surpassed him. His size and versatility would be an asset to any team, but landing with the Chargers and having quarterback Justin Herbert throwing him passes is a perfect match.
Again, I don’t think there is a lot of bad here, so it is tough to nail down the worst pick. I personally don’t believe Hooker should be taken in the first round coming off his injury, but that’s just me. Really, my worst pick is Flowers landing with Baltimore. The Ravens have addressed wide receiver with Nelson Agholor and Odell Beckham Jr. joining Rashod Bateman. If Baltimore does want to use their first round pick on a pass-catcher, I’d expect it to be Quentin Johnston or Jordan Addison. If they think they have it covered and can add to the position later, the team’s next biggest need is corner, and it isn’t that much of a reach to take Emmanuel Forbes at No. 22
I would be interested to see what all would have happened if trades are on the table. I understand the reasoning set forth by the various beat reporters, but Houston not leaving the first round with a quarterback is a shocker. This must mean they are looking to make a smash deal for another quarterback, which is just risky to bank on happening. Otherwise, I think a lot of the landing spots in this will end up being right; it just depends on what number the players are selected at after trades.