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Mike Anania’s 3 Round Mock Draft with Trades

The NFL draft is less than 1 week away. For some of us, this is better than Christmas. We spend countless hours analyzing players, teams, schemes, and every little detail that may provide some insight as to where the best draft-eligible collegiate players will end up and how teams will shape their rosters. In this article, we will analyze team needs and the best prospect fits for teams picking in round 1. 1. Jacksonville Jaguars – TEAM NEEDS: OT, EDGE, WR BEST FITS 1) Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan – The player most likely to go #1 overall, Hutchinson has everything you want in an edge rusher at the next level. He can win with athleticism and/or strength. He’s a smart player and holds up well against the run. He also possesses a relentless motor and has been a very productive player throughout his career at Michigan. 2) Evan Neal, OT, Alabama – Neal is a mountain of a man, standing 6’7” and nearly 360 pounds. He also has plenty of mobility for a man of his size and should hold up well against speed rushers off the edge. He possesses the desired arm length and feet for an elite NFL tackle. 3) Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon – Thibodeaux may have the highest ceiling of any player in this draft. But, some questions about his character may cause him to fall on draft day. Either way, Thibodeaux is an athletic specimen, the freakish athletic ability. He was constantly double-teamed during his college career, yet still found away to live in opponents’ backfields. If teams are satisfied with the character issues, he won’t fall very far. THE PICK: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan – This pick makes way too much sense. The Jags certainly could try to protect last year’s #1 overall pick, Trevor Lawrence, but Hutchinson could be a decade-long anchor for a rebuilding defense. 2. Detroit Lions – TEAM NEEDS: QB, WR, EDGE BEST FITS 1) Hutchinson 2) Thibodeaux 3) Malik Willis, QB, Liberty – Willis is a polarizing prospect at the most important position in football. He is extremely athletic with a huge arm. Questions are present about his ability to decipher defenses and pull the trigger on tight window throws. He will most likely redshirt during his rookie season, regardless of landing spot, but there is so much upside present that most QB-needy teams will consider pulling the trigger on Willis. THE PICK: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon – By the time the draft rolls around, I expect the rumors surrounding Thibodeaux’s character to have settled down. The talent is far too great to not take a swing on a player with franchise-altering upside. The Lions may fall in love with the idea of taking Willis and letting him sit behind incumbent Jared Goff, but I’m not convinced he is their guy. 3. Houston Texans – TEAM NEEDS: EDGE, CB, S BEST FITS 1) Kyle Hamilton – Hamilton didn’t test as well as most would have liked or anticipated. But the play speed is faster than his practice times would indicate. He’s a big, physical safety that can play around the line of scrimmage or drop and play centerfield. Questions are there about his ability to match up with athletic TEs in space, but he should be able to use his strength to jam anyone at the line and hold up in coverage. 2) Thibodeaux 3) Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati – “Sauce” Gardner has just about everything you would look for in a shutdown corner. He’s tall, he’s long, he’s athletic, and he can run. The next touchdown he allows in coverage will be the first touchdown he has ever allowed. The biggest knock on Gardner is how handsy he can be. If he can refine his technique, he could become a truly elite player and an extremely important position. THE PICK: Trade down! The Carolina Panthers will jump from #6 to #3 to land QB Malik Willis. The Panthers know they need to take a swing at a long-term starting quarterback and they believe Willis possesses the traits to become a true franchise cornerstone. He is a work in progress, but they can tread water with Sam Darnold and/or PJ Walker until Willis is ready. 4. New York Jets – TEAM NEEDS: CB, WR, EDGE BEST FITS 1) Gardner 2) Thibodeaux 3) Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida St – Johnson has drastically improved his draft stock over the last year. He’s an outstanding pass rusher, whether he is standing up or with his hand in the ground. He can move around the defensive formation and create havoc off either edge or through the A-gap. Johnson is a bit of a chess piece that will hear his name called very early on day 1. THE PICK: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati – “Sauce” has a New York personality. He oozes confidence and backs it up. With Josh Allen in the division, the Jets know they need help on the back end and there may not be a better player/team match than this. 5. New York Giants – TEAM NEEDS: OT, WR, CB BEST FITS 1) Gardner 2) Neal 3) Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina St – Ekwonu is a mean, mean football player. He plays with a nasty streak that should be a requisite for every offensive lineman. Some teams may view him as more of a guard, but I believe he has more than enough ability to stick on the edge. THE PICK: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama – The Giants need to add talent to their offensive line. Current LT Andrew Thomas improved mightily during the 2021 season, but that isn’t nearly enough for the Giants. Neal is the best offensive lineman in this class and the Giants will find a way to fit both Thomas and Neal in the same lineup moving forward. 6. Carolina Panthers – TEAM NEEDS: QB, OT, CB BEST FITS 1) Willis 2) Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt – Pickett may be the most NFL-ready QB in the class. He’s accurate with the ball and has plenty of mobility. He has impressed during the draft process and could find himself as the top signal caller selected. However, many scouts are very concerned about his small hands and ability to grip the ball, especially in bad weather. While I don’t think it will cause him to fall on draft day, it is something worth monitoring. 3) Ekwonu THE PICK: TRADE! As noted earlier, the Panthers move up to #3 to secure Willis’ services. After trading down, the Texans still land Kyle Hamilton, the safety from Notre Dame, and one of the top overall players on their draft board. Hamilton projects as an immediate impact player at a position of need and helps give the Texans a key piece to build around. 7. New York Giants – TEAM NEEDS: OT, WR, CB BEST FITS 1) Gardner 2) Derek Stingley, Jr, CB, LSU – Stingley’s freshman season at LSU was one of the most impressive seasons you’ll ever see from a freshman corner. He showcased elite playmaking ability, speed, quickness, and shadow ability. However, he has been plagued by injuries ever since. He recently was medically cleared for full participation during the offseason program and performed so well at his pro day that scouts can’t help but be reminded about how much upside Stingley truly possesses. 3) Pickett THE PICK: Derek Stingley Jr, CB, LSU – After landing Evan Neal just two picks earlier, the Giants look to the other side of the ball. James Bradberry is likely to be traded during the draft due to his huge salary, so the Giants need to find someone that can fill Bradberry’s big shoes. Stingley is ready from both an athletic and a technical standpoint and would be a tremendous pick. 8. Atlanta Falcons – TEAM NEEDS: EDGE, WR, QB BEST FITS 1) Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia – A meteoric rise during the draft process, Walker is huge for an edge rusher with athleticism to spare. Teams are clearly enamored with his natural gifts, but his on-field production is spotty at best. Among the edge rushers with a 1st round grade, Walker is last in pass rush win rate, per Pro Football Focus. Coming in around 10%, he falls well shy of the 25% number that Hutchinson and Thibodeaux surpass. To me, he’s the risky pick, but one with an enormous ceiling. 2) Pickett 3) Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio St – Wilson may be the most complete WR in this class. He possesses elite athleticism and can win at all three levels. He may not be the biggest, standing 6 foot even, but he shows strength at the catch point and physicality at the line of scrimmage. Running a sub-4.4 40 at the combine secured Wilson’s place among the best WR prospects in the class and I expect him to come off the board in the top half of round 1. THE PICK: Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia – The Falcons are in a rebuild and could look to draft their future signal caller, but with Willis off the board, they take the defensive player with the highest ceiling. Cornerback AJ Terrell has proven to be one of the best corners in football, so now they attack the pass rush, a position they desperately need to upgrade. 9. Seattle Seahawks – TEAM NEEDS: QB, OT, CB BEST FITS 1) Ekwonu 2) Pickett 3) Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi St – Cross is an athletic mover of bodies along the offensive line. His footwork is excellent and he shows outstanding awareness when the defenses blitz and/or stunt. He may not be the biggest or strongest tackle in the draft, but he’s more than capable of holding up against power rushers. THE PICK: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt – Seattle has a tough decision to make here. Pickett is widely viewed as the most NFL-ready QB in the draft, but rumors say that Seattle does like newly-acquired QB Drew Lock and is ready to give him a chance to win the job. It never hurts to have competition at the most important position on the field, however. And, with Pickett, Seattle gets a smart, mobile QB, that won’t be afraid to take chances to big play WR DK Metcalf. 10. New York Jets – TEAM NEEDS: CB, WR, EDGE BEST FITS 1) Jermaine Johnson 2) Wilson 3) Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama – Williams is the most explosive WR in the draft, but he is coming off a torn ACL. If doctors are pleased with how his rehab is coming, there is still a legitimate chance he is the top WR taken on draft day. Without the injury, teams would be salivating over the chance to take a true game-changing threat that can be moved all over the formation to create mismatches. THE PICK: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio St – While the Jets are tempted to take either Johnson or Williams, they settle on Wilson, the complete WR who should fit really well with Corey Davis and Elijah Moore to give 2nd year starting QB Zach Wilson a nice set of weapons with which to work. 11. Washington Commanders – TEAM NEEDS: WR, IOL, CB BEST FITS 1) Ekwonu 2) Williams 3) Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington – McDuffie may not possess the ideal size for NFL teams, but he is a truly incredible athlete. He has elite short area quickness, explosiveness, and long speed. He may be the best true shadow corner in this draft, and would be a lock for the top 10 if he were 6’1” instead of 5’11”. THE PICK: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina St – In this scenario, Ekwonu falls much farther than anyone would expect leading into the draft. The Commanders need to improve up front, especially after the loss of long-time guard Brandon Scherff, and Ekwonu can fit where needed, whether at guard or tackle. His mean streak is exactly what teams covet when picking the big boys up front. 12. Minnesota Vikings – TEAM NEEDS: CB, LB, WR BEST FITS 1) McDuffie 2) Williams 3) Andrew Booth Jr, CB, Clemson – Booth has good size for a perimeter CB and has showcased an ability to shadow opposing receivers. He uses his length extremely well to avoid penalties and break up passes. He has excellent feet and change-of-direction ability which should afford him the opportunity to be extremely aggressive at jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage. THE PICK: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington – The Vikings really need help in the secondary. Patrick Peterson is back, but is getting older. Cameron Dantzler has flashed at times, but the Vikings need to find someone that can shadow receivers. They have an excellent bookend duo of pass rushers wit Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter, but the defense must fill holes on the back end. McDuffie does just that and gives new GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah his first ever draft pick. 13. Houston Texans – TEAM NEEDS: EDGE, CB, S BEST FITS 1) Johnson 2) George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue – A very big man, Karlaftis is not lacking for athleticism, posting a Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 9.2. He can win with speed, power, or quickness. Karlaftis would fit any scheme and his versatility would be a great fit for almost any defense. 3) Williams THE PICK: Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida St – Johnson’s versatility will be a huge boost for Lovie Smith and the Texans. He can rush from a variety of positions, giving a new look to a defense that needs an overhaul. With S Kyle Hamilton also becoming a Texan, Smith has a couple of building blocks with which to work. 14. Baltimore Ravens – TEAM NEEDS: OT, CB, DT BEST FITS 1) Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia – The behemoth from Georgia impressed at the combine running in the 4.8 range for the 40-yard dash. He possesses unlimited strength and cannot be moved in the run game. He wasn’t asked to rush the passer all that much during his college career, but many scouts think he has a lot of untapped potential in that area. 2) Cross 3) Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa – Penning is another huge offensive tackle with plenty of athleticism. He is a true road grader and has the ability to overpower defenders on the edge and at the second level. He has the adequate footwork to handle power rushers, but he will be a cornerstone blind side blocker for whichever team takes the mid-major product. THE PICK: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia – The Ravens love to have an immovable object anchoring their defensive line, and that is just what Davis is. He will be the latest in a long line of elite nose tackles, with the upside for so much more. If the Ravens can tap into the pass rush potential, they will have a steal in the middle of round 1. 15. Philadelphia Eagles – TEAM NEEDS: CB, WR, S BEST FITS 1) Williams 2) Booth 3) Drake London, WR, USC – London is an elite WR prospect in the mold of Mike Evans. He is huge, standing roughly 6’4” and 220 pounds. He is tremendous at using his physicality, both at the line of scrimmage and at the catch point. He uses his body well to shield defenders and make difficult catches look routine. Some question his ability to separate, but he understands the finer points of route running to create enough separation for any QB to utilize his massive catch radius. THE PICK: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama – The Eagles have an up-and-coming star in WR DeVonta Smith, but they need someone else to open the field. Williams is a dynamic playmaker with truly elite speed. He fits really well with Smith and TE Dallas Goedert to give QB Jalen Hurts a fantastic trio of playmakers. Williams is coming off an ACL injury, so the Eagles will need to make sure the medicals check out before sprinting to the podium with this pick. 16. New Orleans Saints – TEAM NEEDS: QB, OT, S BEST FITS: 1) Cross 2) Penning 3) Chris Olave, WR, Ohio St – Olave is a route-running savant, creating separation with ease. He understands leverage and uses his elite quickness to create space at any level of the defense. He isn’t the biggest receiver in the draft, standing only 6’, but he can be utilized as an asset in the red zone because of his short area quickness and his recognition of coverages. THE PICK: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi St – With long time LT Terron Armstead bolting for Miami, the Saints opt for their next decade-long starter. They certainly could opt for a receiver, such as Olave or London, but the Saints have always been a team that values protecting the quarterback and building in the trenches. Cross fits perfectly and can be penciled into the lineup from day 1. 17. Los Angeles Chargers – TEAM NEEDS: DT, G, EDGE BEST FITS 1) Davis 2) Karlaftis 3) Zion Johnson, G, Boston College – Johnson has had a pretty incredible rise throughout the draft process. Many saw him as a mid-2nd round pick early on, but he has passed every test with flying colors. He can fit any scheme due to his elite combination of strength, footwork, athleticism, and anchor ability. In a class deep with offensive tackles and lacking a ton of interior line prospects, Johnson should find his way into the back half of round 1. THE PICK: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue – The Chargers have had one heck of an offseason, adding Khalil Mack and JC Jackson to a team littered with pro bowl talent. Mack, however, is getting older and the Chargers know they need as many pass rushers as possible. Teaming Karlaftis with Mack and Joey Bosa, among others, gives this team a scary pass rush, capable of disrupting the passing game of almost any team in football. 18. Philadelphia Eagles – TEAM NEEDS: CB, WR, S BEST FITS 1) Booth 2) Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah – Lloyd has solid size for a modern linebacker, but his athleticism is his calling card. He is a true sideline-to-sideline defender, using his speed, but also his intelligence, to make plays all over the field. He also has excellent timing on blitzes and has a knack for beating blocks to make plays in the backfield. 3) Daxton Hill, CB/S, Michigan – Hill is listed as a safety, but has the ability to line up at any spot in the defensive backfield. He is an excellent athlete, possessing incredible explosion. Coupled with his footwork and change-of-direction skills, Hill can absolutely shadow receivers both on the perimeter and in the slot. Using him as a chess piece, defenses will be able to create mismatches and confusion for opposing QBs. THE PICK: Daxton Hill, DB, Michigan – The Eagles could certainly use another pure cover-corner opposite Darius Slay, but here, they opt for Hill who gives them the desired versatility they covet. Hill wil