The college football season came to an end this weekend with some crazy conference championships. As we head into bowl season, I have a packed article for you today.
The college football playoffs are set and we are in for some great games. LSU snagged the 1 seed after a dominating performance over Georgia. They’ll face 4 seed Oklahoma who beat Baylor for the Big 12 Championship in overtime. Ohio State slipped to the 2 seed after a sluggish first half against Wisconsin before making a comeback in the second half for the win. They’ll take on 3 seed Clemson who put together another undefeated season and is licking their chops as they feel disrespected for winning the title last season, going undefeated this season, but only being the 3 seed.
The bowl games are also set, and the New Year’s Six games are as intriguing as ever. Minnesota will take on Auburn in the Outback Bowl, Michigan will face Alabama in the Citrus Bowl, Oregon and Wisconsin will square off in the Rose Bowl, and Georgia and Baylor will compete in the Sugar Bowl.
As I mentioned above, conference championship weekend had some great games and there were some great performances to go with it. LSU’s QB Joe Burrow, Oklahoma’s WR CeeDee Lamb, Clemson’s WR Tee Higgins, Wisconsin’s RB Jonathan Taylor, Ohio State’s WR K.J. Hill, and Oklahoma’s LB Kenneth Murray had games to remember on the biggest stages of the season.
I have a new mock draft below due to the end of the season with only bowl games and playoffs remaining. There are also only 3 games left in the NFL season, so the draft order is really starting to solidify itself. As always, mock drafts are based on what I would do, and the order is determined by current NFL standings.
1) Cincinnati Bengals:
QB Joe Burrow, LSU
There has been a lot of talk between Joe Burrow and Chase Young at this pick, but after watching the games this weekend, that talk should end. Burrow is a franchise QB, lets not overthink it. The past few QBs to go number one overall are Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield, Jared Goff, and Jameis Winston. I would argue Burrow looks better than all of them.
2) New York Giants:
EDGE Chase Young, Ohio State
Chase Young is the best talent in this class and the Giants need a big infusion of talent. This roster is not good and has so many holes, so the Giants have to go best player available here. Young looks like a generational talent as an edge rusher.
3) Washington Redskins:
WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
The Redskins also have a lot of holes, so they can go with the best player available as well. A first round receiver of Jeudy's caliber across from rookie sensation Terry McLaurin sets up the Redskins at receiver for the future.
4) Miami Dolphins:
QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
The injury to Tua Tagovailoa is not anywhere close to being determined on the severity down the road. Therefore, I’m making this pick in good faith that he will make a full recovery. Tua was viewed as the sure-fire number one overall pick in this class nearly two years ago. That probably wouldn’t have changed without this injury, despite Burrow’s play this year. Dolphins still get their QB.
5) Detroit Lions:
EDGE A.J. Epenesa, Iowa
I really don’t know how the Lions are picking this high again, but they need the best talent they can find. Epenesa is a monster coming off the edge and pairing him with Trey Flowers creates a tremendous pass rushing duo.
6) Arizona Cardinals:
OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia
The Cardinals have a huge problem on their offensive line and Thomas is the best in the draft. Rookie QB Kyler Murray has a good receiving corps, but still needs help on offensive up front.
7) Jacksonville Jaguars:
CB Jeff Okudah, Ohio State
The Jaguars traded away star cornerback Jalen Ramsey this season after contract disputes. Their defense has dropped off considerably from their dominance just a few seasons ago. Okudah is by far the best CB in this class, and he competes with other former Ohio State DBs in Denzel Ward, Marshon Lattimore, and Eli Apple.
8) Atlanta Falcons:
LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
Simmons has had a huge rise on draft boards this year and Atlanta needs help on the defensive side of the ball. Simmons plays linebacker at Clemson but he can also line up at safety, making him a versatile weapon that Atlanta should covet.
9) New York Jets:
OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
The Jets have many holes across this roster, but offensive line may be the biggest need. Young QB Sam Darnold needs protection to help continue his growth, as he’s shown the ability to play lights out, especially when he’s protected.
10) Los Angeles Chargers:
QB Justin Herbert, Oregon
The Chargers need to figure out their QB situation beyond this season. Phillip Rivers is aging, his performance is greatly declining, and he’s a free agent after this season. Herbert is a streaky player, but his good games are top tier. Number 10 overall isn’t a reach for a QB with Herbert’s upside.
11) Carolina Panthers:
S Grant Delpit, LSU
Delpit has had a mini slide this season due to a step back in production and lack of growth from last year. But he’s still a playmaker who can roam the Panthers’ secondary and be that guy that this defense is missing.
12) Denver Broncos:
WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
The Broncos shipped away WR Emmanuel Sanders at the trade deadline, but they’ve discovered a big-time talent in second-year receiver Courtland Sutton. There isn’t any depth behind Sutton though, and QB Drew Lock could use another playmaking receiver.
13) Indianapolis Colts:
WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
Star WR T.Y. Hilton has been frequently injured this season and the Colts lack depth behind him. It seemed the Colts biggest issue this season would be Andrew Luck retiring right before the season began, but Jacoby Brissett has stepped in with great QB play. The bigger issue has been Hilton’s injuries severely holding them back this season. Ruggs is a perfect complement with his elite speed.
14) Oakland Raiders:
DL Derrick Brown, Auburn
Brown is a top-10 talent in this class but he falls a little here due to higher importance of other position. So the Raiders end up with a steal to put between their two rookie pass rushers in Clellin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby. They also will have rookie safety Jonathan Abram returning from injury next season and they’re not finished adding talent to their defense with one more pick in the first round.
15) Philadelphia Eagles:
CB C.J. Henderson, Florida
The Eagles might have the worst secondary in the league and they desperately need help at cornerback. Henderson will immediately becomes their best CB and help shore up their struggles. The depth at receiver in this class means they can target one in the second or third rounds.
16) Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
QB Jake Fromm, Georgia
Like I said, my mocks are what I would do, and I can’t stick with the roller coaster that is Jameis Winston in Tampa. Winston's most recent stat line is nearly 450 yards and 4 touchdowns, but 3 interceptions in a game where Tampa only won by 3 points. Bruce Arians is a good coach and there is talent on this roster, so they need a QB who is a bit more predictable in his performances.
17) Cleveland Browns:
OT Trey Adams, Washington
If it weren’t for a season-ending knee injury last season, Adams would’ve been a first-rounder last year. He’s gotten his game back and remains a first-rounder, and the Browns desperately need offensive line help for Baker Mayfield. A new left tackle will instantly solve many of their problems.
18) Oakland Raiders (via CHI):
LB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma
The Raiders use their second first round pick on another dominant defensive player in the middle of the field. Watching Oklahoma play this year, it’s not a surprise to see that their defense is much improved as Murray is flying all over the field making tackles on both sidelines and in the backfield. The Raiders linebacker depth is pitiful, and Murray is a very exciting addition. The Raiders can also go after a receiver in later rounds.
19) Tennessee Titans:
OT Walker Little, Stanford
Little suffered a season-ending knee injury early this season, so it’s still not clear if he will declare this year. But if he does and he comes back to form, he’s a top-10 talent. The Titans have seen a resurgence in the middle of this season, but their offensive line play is still a little shaky.
20) Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR):
WR Tee Higgins, Clemson
WR D.J. Chark has been a great find in an otherwise lost season for the Jaguars, but a running mate next to him of the caliber of Tee Higgins has to excite fans. It appears rookie sensation QB Gardner Minshew will be the starting QB moving forward, so another weapon for him to throw to would be a great help.
21) Dallas Cowboys:
DL Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
I’m really not sure what to make of the Cowboys at this point. They have a great roster, but they’re still losing games left and right. Could it be Head Coach Jason Garrett? Maybe. But Kinlaw is the best player on my board at this point (besides a running back which they really don’t need). He can plug up the middle while also generating a pass rush, and should free up the Cowboys great linebackers to do even more.
22) Miami Dolphins (via PIT):
RB D’Andre Swift, Georgia
The Dolphins finally are picking with their second pick, after fleecing their roster this offseason in pursuit of draft picks. They got their QB, now they can place an amazing talent at RB next to him in the backfield. Swift is a do-it-all back, something this roster can really use.
23) Miami Dolphins (via HOU):
OT Alex Leatherwood, Alabama
And now the Dolphins get to use their third and final pick in the first round, and they go offense again. They traded away their potential franchise left tackle, and Leatherwood has the potential to fill that role. At the very least Leatherwood is versatile to play anywhere across the line.
24) Buffalo Bills:
OL Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin
The Bills are one of the surprising teams in the NFL this season, currently sitting at 9-4 and the 5 seed in the AFC. They threw some money at the offensive line this offseason, but it didn’t really pan out. Biadasz can play anywhere on the interior of the line and would be a starter in Buffalo next year.
25) Minnesota Vikings:
CB Kristian Fulton, LSU
Starting CB Xavier Rhodes fell off a cliff this season in terms of talent, and this defense is suffering because of it. The Vikings were viewed as a top-5 defense year in and year out the past few seasons, but they are way down this year. Spending a first round pick at the CB position this year is a great investment, and Fulton is a great find at this point in the draft.
26) Kansas City Chiefs:
OL Trey Smith, Tennessee
It seemed for most of the season that the biggest need for the Chiefs was at cornerback, but their secondary has made big improvements. The real issue is along their offensive line, particularly on the interior. Trey Smith is arguably the best interior offensive lineman in this class and I have him just a shade behind Biadasz.
27) Green Bay Packers:
WR Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado
The Packers need weapons are the receiver position behind Davante Adams and Shenault is a gadget that can be used anywhere. At Colorado, he was lined up out wide, in the slot, in the backfield, and even at tight end. This would be a perfect pairing due to Shenault’s skill and versatility.
28) New England Patriots:
TE Brycen Hopkins, Purdue
Rob Gronkowski’s retirement has left a very noticeable void on the Patriots offense. Tom Brady still has WR Julian Edelman and rookie WR N’Keal Harry, but he’s missing that big body working in the middle of the field. Hopkins is a first round talent whose skill set matches closely to what Gronkowski brought to the field. It’s a match made in heaven, as long as the Pats pull the trigger on a tight end in the first round.
29) New Orleans Saints:
WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama
The Saints are inching so close to a Super Bowl, but if they don’t get it this year, Smith could push them over the edge next year. He will most likely be the third Alabama receiver drafted in this class, but make no mistake, he is a first rounder. Honestly, if he wasn’t at Alabama with Jeudy and Ruggs, he’d probably be considered a top 20 talent. The Saints need a receiver behind Michael Thomas, and this duo would be electric.
30) Seattle Seahawks:
CB Paulson Adebo, Stanford
The Legion of Boom days are very far in the past in Seattle, but the talent in the secondary isn’t even in the top half of the league. The Seahawks could attempt to recreate the Legion, led by a cornerback from Stanford in Richard Sherman, with a cornerback from Stanford in Paulson Adebo. Adebo isn’t getting enough attention in this class, but he warrants a selection at the end of the first round.
31) San Francisco 49ers:
S Xavier McKinney, Alabama
There is always one team every year that it’s difficult to mock draft for them because they’re playing so well and winning so many games masks their actual deficiencies. I thought about going best player available, but the top of my board currently consists of edge rushers and offensive linemen, the two last things they need. But there are two spots the 49ers need to look at in the draft, safety and wide receiver. WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Debo Samuels have shown enough to make me believe they can wait until Day 2 of the draft. And Xavier McKinney is just sitting there staring me in the face. McKinney is giving me the feeling of the most underrated prospect in this class and the least talked about first round prospect. The 49ers get a steal here.
32) Baltimore Ravens:
EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU
Baltimore is also almost a complete team, but they still lack the pass rush that could be key in the playoffs. This team is loaded with young talent though, so adding Chaisson, he slides a bit but has incredibly high potential, could set them up with a run at a couple of Super Bowls in the next 5 years.
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