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The 2022 regular season for college football is winding down. However, the interest regarding draft prospects and where they’ll be positioned mounts every day
Generally toward the end of a yearly campaign less heralded players make a late season surge up draft boards. Conversely, there are a number of well-known athletes that fall into later round discussions for a variety of reasons. Earlier mocks of ours have featured Ohio State wide receiver Jaxson Smith-Njigba as a top 15 pick, and over the last several mocks he wasn’t even listed. Instead, this week a receiver we’ve never mentioned finds his way on our board as the 25th best option. The mock draft rollercoaster continues – enjoy.
NFL Draft order courtesy of .
1. Texans: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
It’s almost a forgone belief that the Texans will draft a franchise caliber quarterback. As recently as 2019, Houston was a playoff team having finished that season with a 10-6 win/loss record and a post-season victory against the Bills. Since ’19, the Texans have won only nine out of 43 games played and become a deeply dysfunctional organization. Stroud’s prodigious skill set offers a glimmer of hope for Houston and that shouldn’t be ignored on draft day.
2. Panthers: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Carolina has an impressive collection of highly selected quarterbacks already – Baker Mayfield was the first overall pick in 2018, while Sam Darnold was the third choice. But its apparent neither quarterback is good enough to envision a future with as each signal caller was chosen by a different organization that quickly discarded them and it’s possible Carolina may cut ties with both at this season’s end as well. Bryce Young might be the answer, or he could be another enigmatic quarterback dressed up as an organizational conundrum.
3. Bears: Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
If pressed, I strongly believe Chicago trades down from the third overall position to acquire more draft capital. However, should the Bears retain the third pick, targeting Carter potentially addresses a number of defensive problems. Carter displays enough lower body strength to stymie the run and surprising quickness to penetrate into teams’ backfields. Chicago could utilize his alignment versatility and energy to bolster an ineffective defensive line.
4. Raiders: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Georgia
Drafting a talent like Anderson would undoubtedly improve Las Vegas’ ability to limit opponents’ scoring chances, that’s shown by his career 55.5 tackles for loss and 32.5 sacks for the Bulldogs. Six of Las Vegas’ seven losses have been by a touchdown or less and the team’s 13 sacks are a league worst. The Raiders’ inability to sustain leads and close out games makes drafting Anderson a no-brainer. Anderson is the type of generational talent that could transform an entire organization’s fortunes.
5. Seahawks (via DEN): Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson
The Seahawks struggle stopping the run, ranking 25th after allowing 1,409 rushing yards and 12 ground scores leading into this week. Bresee is an instinctive player who plays with leverage and above average strength, he is adept at slipping blocks and pursuing ball carriers with an unsuspecting burst and sustained lateral quickness. Bresee’s ability to align as either a three-technique or five-technique defender attests to the type of versatility he possesses and what many NFL coordinators likely covet.
6. Lions (via LAR): Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
Murphy keeps things simple, beating opponents with explosive surges that generally railroads them into playing on their heels while sporting an ability to strike fast and help out leverage blockers while his strength allows him to redirect his opponents in a disregarding manner. Murphy can rush from either side and creates enough havoc to keep offenses off schedule and challenged rhythmically.
7. Texans (via CLE): Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
Johnston is a legit aerial weapon with long striding acceleration, above average leaping ability and an impressive catching radius. As a boundary receiver, Johnston possesses NFL caliber size (6’4″, 212 lbs) and speed (4.4 40-time) that should threaten opposing teams’ coverage schemes. Houston may soon need a primary receiver, especially if productive wideout Brandin Cooks remains disgruntled as a Texan.
8. Steelers: Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern
A sound technician with exceptional upper body strength, Skoronski plays with a nastiness that discourages defenders ill equipped to handle his power. Skoronski is arguably the best offensive lineman in this draft class and he routinely produces top notch performances on a weekly basis. A respected pro prospect who flashes day one starting potential, according to PFF, Skoronski is the highest rated pass blocker (92.4) in the nation.
9. Jaguars: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
Since it’s a passing league, accumulating elite defensive backs is always a winning strategy. Ringo consistently grades out as the top corner for this upcoming draft class, and with explosive acceleration and speed (4.35 40-time) it’s easy to see why he projects so highly.
10. Eagles (via NO): Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
Wilson displays uncommon swiftness off the snap of the ball, quickly extending his lengthy arms to gain leverage past blockers. Slippery and nimble for a man his size (6’6″, 275 lbs), Wilson’s bendbility around the edge is difficult to gauge, complicating blockers attempts at containing his pass rush. An extremely productive player, Wilson’s 27.5 tackles for loss and 14 sacks over the last 23 games indicate his potential at the next level.
11. Cardinals: Paris Johnson, OL, Ohio State
Arizona’s eight unrestricted free agent offensive linemen strongly suggests the team requires depth and quality within its blocking unit. Johnson may not be the highest rated offensive line prospect, however, he might just possess greater potential than his noteworthy peers. Well balanced with quick feet, Johnson displays above-average athleticism on combination blocks into the defense’s second level. As a blind side pass protector, his lateral agility sufficiently matches up with speed rushing attackers.
12. Packers: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
Apparently, the loss of All-Pro receiver Davante Adams has completely unbalanced the flow and synergy between Green Bay’s receivers and its star signal caller, Aaron Rodgers. Addison is a Biletnikoff Award winner who fearlessly changed schools, learned a new offensive system while succeeding with an entirely different set of teammates. An adept route runner, Addison is a mentally tough, sure-handed receiver who could be wildly productive with Rodgers targeting him.
13. Lions: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Porter Jr. sports prototypical size for a corner (6’2, 191 lbs) and enjoys mixing it up physically on the girdiron. Among the more experienced defensive back prospects in this draft class (1,887 college snaps played), Porter is extremely nuanced in various techniques for covering receivers and he’s excellent in diagnosing routes and utilizing measured anticipatory skills that successfully mirror pass catchers. Currently, Porter’s 11 passes defended is tied for second in the Big Ten Conference.
14. Colts: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
The Colts are in a free fall from their preseason expectations and find themselves reassessing their team trajectory and assests. Over the past several years, the Colts have chose to hinge their fortunes on the arms of Hall of Fame caliber passers or discarded veterans with something to prove. If Levis is available mid-first round, expect the Colts to try a different tact and possibly select a promising quarterback with above average athleticism and untapped potential.
15. Falcons: Jaylin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
Arguably, Hyatt is turning into the most productive receiver of the 2023 draft class. In only 11 games played, Hyatt’s 15 receiving scores lead the nation and his 1,181 yards are third among FBS receivers. It’s quite possible that Hyatt has moved from national obscurity to a potential day one draft selection
16. Chargers: Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah
Phillips is more quick than fast as a coverage defender, winning through disciplined positioning and next level awareness. Ten games into this season, Phillips snatched five interceptions, having returned two of them for scores. Since the Chargers’ current nickle back Bryce Callahan is an unrestricted free agent, it’s possible Phillips becomes the perfect slot corner/nickle back defender for Los Angeles in a wild AFC West division.
17. Commanders: Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
Simpson is the type of three-down linebacker that lines up anywhere on the field. So far this season, Simpson’s lined up on the defensive front, in the slot and defended within the box, his versatility is exactly what Washington could use to bolster a defense that ranks 14th in forced turnovers and 28th in passing scores allowed.
18. Jets: Antonio Johnson, S, Texas A&M
Johnson’s athletic flexibility encourages coaches to position him all over the defensive landscape, he has lined up as a deep safety, in the slot corner spot and even as a linebacker. An intelligent defender, Johnson’s fluid mental acuity quickly processes plays from any defensive alignment, making him extremely difficult for offenses to out-maneuver.
19. Buccaneers: Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU
Aside from four-time Pro Bowler Mike Evans, the Bucs’ receiving corps is either aging or constantly dealing with injury and missed games. Finding a receiving partner to spell some of the double teams Evans contends with, the Bucs may target an elusive pass catching talent like Boutte, who could positively impact Tampa’s passing game. An excellent pass catcher, Boutte’s blend of speed, quickness and elusivity make him a perfect compliment to Evans’ skill set.
20. Broncos (via SF): Isiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame
Foskey’s suddenness off the edge makes him a special talent that commands respect from offensive tackles. His ability to chase down ball carriers for backside stops, plus his improved awareness in thwarting trap runs and screen passes, makes him extremely difficult to scheme against. Denver’s subsequent trading of edge specialist Bradley Chubb to the Dolphins, essentially created a glaring need for an effective pass rusher.
21. Seahawks: Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon
Sewell is a powerfully sculpted interior linebacker, whose size (6’3″, 250 lbs) and strength enables him to ward off blockers while making bone-jarring tackles and he possesses the size and athleticism to man the inside and thrive in the middle of a crowded melee. This versatile hybrid defender is scheme friendly, and presents defensive coordinators with a plethora of formation options that would create mismatches in Seattle’s favor.
22. Patriots: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
Smith is a patient defender who moves with quick feet, but is never panicked or over zealous in his coverage assignments. Better in zone coverage than man-to-man schemes, Smith is athletically and technically sound enough to compete in a variety of ways. A smooth player with NFL caliber speed, he can perform as a boundary corner, or nickel slot defender on certain passing downs.
23. Bengals: Brandon Joseph, S, Notre Dame
Joseph is a playmaking safety with a ball hawk’s skills, having picked off 10 passes in his last 29 games played. Adept in run support, Joseph’s 152 tackles over the same span of games illustrate his multi-faceted contributions on defense – he can operate effectively in the deep middle portions of the field, or match up individually with move tight ends. Josephs intelligence, athleticism, versatility and leadership qualities make him an ideal choice for any defense.
24. Bills: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Robinson is an elite back with eye popping quickness and an elusiveness that avoids big hits. An explosive back with receiving skills, Robinson can score from anywhere on the field. He is a three-down running back with an inside/outside skill set that makes him scheme versatile for today’s modern NFL offense. Robinson may be the first and only running back taken on the first day of the draft.
25. Ravens: Rashee Rice, WR, SMU
Who is Rashee Rice? Well, if you don’t know then ask somebody and they’ll will tell you Rice leads the nation in receiving yards (1,208). In addition to amassing over 1,200 receiving yards, Rice’s 83 receptions is fourth in the country, and his nine aerial scores are tied for 11th in FBS competition. Who is Rashee Rice? He is quite possibly the best receiver you never heard of, so now you know.
26. Titans: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
A physical blocker and adept pass catcher, Mayer could be an additional offensive weapon to an otherwise, one-sided Derrick Henry led running attack. His ability to stay on the field regardless the down and distance, adds an element of “surprise” for teams uncertain of whether Tennessee is passing or running. He’s strong enough to hold a block in order to fake a run play, then swiftly release into the open for a downfield pass reception. Mayer’s mid-level field versatility should immediately improve the imbalanced productivity of the Titans’ offense.
27. Cowboys: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
The Cowboys are a dominating defense, but free agency may strip Dallas’ depth and cumulative team speed. Despite his tweener size (6’3″, 235 lbs), Smith is a tenacious run defender who attacks blockers and ball carriers with equal ferocity. If Smith is available when Dallas picks, he would fit in nicely into the Cowboys’ varied defensive schemes.
28. Giants: Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina
How inept is the Giants’ passing game, you ask? So impudent, that star running back Saquon Barkley’s 1,163 yards from scrimmage are 130 more than the top four wide receiver’s combined totals (1,033 yards). Downs is a dazzling receiver with elite quickness, uncommon toughness and an adamant focus when pass catching – over the past 22 games he’s tabulated 178 receptions for 2,213 yards and 19 aerial scores.
29. Dolphins: FORFEITED
The Miami Dolphins forfeited one of their two first-round picks (plus a third-round pick in 2024) for tampering surrounding Tom Brady.
30. Vikings: Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
Timing, they say, is everything and incumbent quarterback Kirk Cousins’ time in Minnesota may be coming to an end. Cousins will be an unrestricted free agent entering 2024, so finding and cultivating his potential replacement should be a proactive measure. Hooker’s season-ending injury will undoubtedly affect his draft status, but maybe in a way which could benefit him and an organization that shrewdly calculates the risks of drafting him late in the first round. Minnesota possesses a potent offense and Hooker could heal and learn for a year without experiencing typical first round expectations to produce.
31. Chiefs: Broderick Jones, OL, Georgia
Jones’ size (6’4″, 315 lbs) and impressive arm length allow him to sting and stymie aggressive power rushers and his dominating physical attributes are suited to playing either tackle position at the next level. Jones may be the most athletically gifted offensive line prospect in the 2023 draft class. Features amazing lateral quickness defuses many pass rushers attempting to speed past the edge and Jones’ arm length presents another impediment to such defensive pressure.
32. Eagles: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
Gonzalez is an explosive talent with legitimate NFL speed, a 42-inch verticle and a physicality that places receivers in distress. Although the Eagles secondary intercepted 13 passes in 10 games this season, they’ve also allowed 10 passing scores, too. Philadelphia might consider taking Gonzalez to shore up its pass defense. With above average change-of-direction ability, aggressive man to man coverage skills and his proficiency in zone schemes Gonzalez should be a targeted asset for NFL teams.
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