Enter the Year of the Dragon. The NFL Draft is going down in Detroit this year, and just like that city, each team in the league has reason to believe that they are on the come-up!

Mock drafts can feel futile because of the unpredictable chaos that inevitably reigns when you have 32 individually cunning and ambitious organizations competing in real time. With that in mind, I sought to create something as adaptable as each GM’s gameplan has to be (at least close right? 😏).

Below, I’ve made my most educated pick predictions, based on team need, prospect profiles, team history and divisional outlook, among other factors. I’ve also listed other strong positional considerations (in parentheses, after my actual prediction). The more question marks, the more likely/tempting I think that alternate pick is. Consider this somewhat of a draft strategy roadmap for each team. As always, look out for the bolded hyperlinks to fun/dangerous rabbit holes below. Let’s help these teams get RIGHT!!

I included three projected trades (LAC-MIN; NYJ-DEN; ARI-NO).

1. Chicago BearsCaleb Williams, QB USC (WR?) This could give Chicago the potential for something I can’t remember them ever having: an explosive offense with a cache of weapons and a creative playmaker at the controls. Da Bears are still the only franchise to never have a quarterback exceed either 4,000 yards passing or 30 passing TD’s; I say that streak ends with this pick. Justin Fields showed promise, but it makes too much sense to start over with a rookie QB contract rather than paying Fields 3x more.

2. Washington CommandersJayden Daniels, QB LSU (DB? OT??) The last two Heisman winners go 1 and 2. Opting not to take a second-straight UNC QB, the team in the DMV decides to embrace the mobile QB trend and take Jayden Daniels. Daniels ranked tops in CFB in passing grade on throws over 20+ yards and adds an element of mobility and downfield passing that could make for an easy fit for Kingsbury’s spread air-raid offense (think Baker Mayfield, Pat Mahomes and Kyler Murray’s skillsets). Is this pick the reason he reneged on the Raiders?

3. New England PatriotsDrake Maye, QB UNC (OT? WR??) I wanted to give them MHJ so bad after they lost out on Calvin Ridley (almost as bad as when you need to give an ashy friend some lotion). Per Cynthia Frelund of NFL .com: sixth-round rookie receiver, Demario Douglas led the team in receiving with just 561 yards, while veteran running back, Ezekiel Elliot had the most receptions at 51”. Yeah… y’all need some help. Here’s what new HC, Jerod Mayo said that convinced me otherwise: “We’re gonna draft the best player for a position that’s very important, you put the pieces together”. Robert Kraft: “One way or another, I’d like to see us get a top-rate, young quarterback”. Maye would be in a good situation to restore some excitement and learn from a somewhat similar type of player in Jacoby Brissett.

4. Arizona CardinalsMarvin Harrison Jr., WR Ohio State (Edge?) This rebuilds the offense with a blue-chip, CeeDee Lamb-type talent who could serve to maximize Kyler’s impact. K1 has a career QB Rating that is more than 11 points lower when NOT targeting D-Hop, hence Michael Wilson should not be your WR1. Can they resist the beck and call of the Vikings who want to trade up for a QB? Teams usually try to avoid paying the tab on three 1st-rounders in one year, so I’ve got them sticking and picking for now.

5. Minnesota VikingsJ.J. McCarthy, QB Michigan (OG? Edge??) PROJECTED TRADE UP ⤴️ FROM 11 WITH THE CHARGERS. Their two 1st round picks (11 and 23) could add up to the value of the 4th overall pick. Trade up with the Bolts to take this guy, who I’m calling a more athletic Mac Jones… No, no, he’s a distributor. I’m still slightly suspicious that the McCarthy rumors were all smokescreen, and that there’s a chance they go up and get purple durag legend, Penix Jr. (Ah-Jay-Arruh).

6. New York GiantsRome Odunze, WR UW (CB? QB??) The team who they call ‘big blue’ will take to the skies as a big play passing game with Daniel Jones after SaQuads’ exit. Brian Daboll saw this evolution happen with Josh Allen when Stefon Diggs came to Buffalo. Even if he doesn’t take the next step, Drew Lock provides competition for Vanilla Vick and a good litmus test (given the right firepower). This is a physical, tackle-breaking jump-ball artist to uplift the offense and compliment the shifty Wan’Dale Robinson, and the blazing fast Jalin Hyatt. Before the National Championship game, Michael Penix Jr. had thrown 21 passes to Rome Odunze when UW’s in-game win probability (per FPI) was under 50% this year. Those passes are 19-for-21 for 333 yards. WOW. Time to end this trend.

7. Tennessee TitansJoe Alt, OT Notre Dame (DT? Edge??) This regime is taking a turn toward a new-age offense in going from Vrabel to Callahan, but they must address the worst-graded offensive line in the league last year. I mean damn, I would’ve assumed it was either the Panthers or Commanders. Tennessee has a bunch of tackle-ish offensive tackles, so take a prospect who is an agile pass protector and recorded one of the best combines of any OT ever. Give Will Levis time and see what he can do with Ridley, Hopkins and Burks.

8. Atlanta FalconsDallas Turner, Edge AL (WR? DT?? QB???) New HC, Raheem Morris knows the value of a good QB after seeing the stability Stafford has brought to the LA Rams’ offense. Penix Jr. is sack avoidant, and a rhythm passer: a good fit for a top-5 O-line from 2023 👀. You can either double-dip and have a rook learn from Captain Kirk, or free yourself up to take the edge that you’ve needed every single year to make this defense better. Take an explosive athlete (one who was compared to Brian Burns by NFL .com), who ran a scorching 4.47 40-yard dash, here at pass rusher. From AtlantaFalcons .com (opinions of the media team, not the front office): “The Falcons did not have a single player record more than 6.5 sacks last season, and the two players who reached that number — Calais Campbell and Bud Dupree — are unsigned free agents.”

9. Chicago BearsLaiatu Latu, Edge UCLA (S? WR??) I could see them trading back here if another team wants to take advantage of one of the top-3 wideout falling. The Chi should take one in the 2nd themselves and go edge here to bookend an improved defense from a year ago. Latu is a technician who owns the highest pass-rush win-rate over the last 9 years, topping both Bosa bros. He had a neck injury that he didn’t get cleared at UW from but is a high-grade pass rusher who can improve on his run defending. Nabers?? MAYBE. You don’t want Caleb to get too pass happy yet… right?!

10. Denver BroncosMalik Nabers, WR LSU (DT? Edge?? QB???) PROJECTED TRADE UP ⤴️ FROM 12 WITH THE JETS. Is Bowers a fit? Receiver is a better contract value, and they move ahead of the hated Bolts to get their man. Remember when the Sean Payton-led Broncos traded up in the 2018 draft to take Marcus Davenport instead of Lamar Jackson?? We know that he loves dynamic playmakers (Sproles, Bush, Kamara). You can always draft one of the later round QB’s, like Nix or Penix to compete with Stidham and Wilson 0.5. People can hate on Russell all they want, but one hard fact is that both Sutton and Jeudy have one 1K yard season between 10 combined seasons for both. This gives them an explosive option who is potentially as versatile as Deebo Samuel, to keep defenses honest. Nix (A QB who’s completion percentage that led the FBS) would be interesting as a rhythm passer…

11. Los Angeles ChargersJC Latham, OT AL (DT? CB?? WR???) PROJECTED TRADE DOWN ⤵️ FROM 5 WITH THE VIKINGS. I’m forecasting a trade down with Minnesota here (Despite the Joe Alt rumors), as JCL would be a great pick at 11 as one of the best run-blocking offensive tackles in the draft. Former Ravens Director of College Scouting (now Chargers GM, Joe Hortiz) and Former Stanford/49ers/Wolverines HC (now Chargers HC, Jim Harbaugh) will draft a tone-setting tough guy and build an elite line in SoCal. Latham is a 340-lb. mauler who is a beautiful fit at RT.

12. New York JetsBrock Bowers, TE UGA (LB? DB?? WR???) PROJECTED TRADE DOWN ⤵️ FROM 10 WITH THE BRONCOS. They remade their line and allowed AVT to move back inside. Time to surround Rodgers with more playmakers. B.B. was the first TE ever to win the John Mackey Award twice and is a dynamic talent at the position. Is he a smaller Kittle? I keep going back and forth between he and Nabors. The Jets are in beautiful position to hold a bidding war at 10 between inter-division rivals Raiders and Broncos (and Chargers if they move down!) to move up for Penix, Fuaga or Nabers.

13. Las Vegas RaidersTaliese Fuaga, OT/OG Oregon State (CB? DT?? QB???) Fuaga as a big, physical, brawling RT (or even an OG) would be a very good fit with the Raiders mystique! They’d love to leap up and trade with the Titans to pair Antonio Pierce with his former QB at ASU… but he most likely will not be there. Is Penix (???) an option here? If they want to make sure he doesn’t land in Denver, they could trade up (Jets, is that you again?). Or even a former Michigan QB (like Raiders minority-owner, Tom Brady). They need OL bad…

14. New Orleans SaintsOlumuyiwa Fashanu, OT PSU (DT? QB?? WR???) We’ve seen a fall from grace from some of their tackles. Peat is out, Ramczyk may not play, and Penning did not play consistently well last year. This guy has tools to help stabilize their line. Not the best run blocker but is a great pass protector. Go and get a QB later.

15. Indianapolis ColtsTerrion Arnold, CB AL (TE? OG?? WR???) “We have to get more explosive (plays) on offense,” Colts general manager Chris Ballard told reporters coming out of the 2023 season, “And we have to be able to eliminate the explosives on defense.” Go get an elite cover corner with the hope that you won’t pick this high in a while with AR back. La’Jarius Sneed was apparently of trade interest to the Colts (along with the entire AFC South, minus H-Town). Arnold is physical on the island as well and can bring the nastiness and physicality that Anthony Richardson and Jonathan Taylor provide to the offense, even in the secondary. Do they trust Will Fries at RG?

16. Seattle SeahawksTroy Fautanu, OT/OG UW (DB? MLB?? DT???) John Schneider said that offensive guards are being overvalued… so he goes and creates an OG! I heard line guru, Brandon Thorn describe Fautanu as this draft’s best possible guard. I think it’s quite possible/probable that Seattle trades down for this draft’s second-best possible guard (according Thorn) in Graham Barton while picking up the 2nd-round pick that you don’t currently have. The Nick Harris signing may reveal that SEA is looking for zone blockers. New OL coach, Scott Huff coached him and Fautanu at UW, and prefers quick, athletic and versatile linemen. Troy Fautanu is one of the most unique prospects, and a perfect fit for Seattle. He is a violent, powerful OT who some expect to kick inside to OG (because he’s a little short for an OT) and be just as good because of his short area quickness. We need better IOL play, but he could also be insurance for Abe Lucas’ chronic knee problems and Charles Cross’ inconsistencies (🫢). Seattle still has one of the top receiving corps in the league, so fix the leaks up front, and squeeze the last bit of Geno’s promise out, while building a stable cockpit for a possible transition to Howell to usher in the Mike Mac. era.

17. Jacksonville JaguarsByron Murphy II, DT UT (OL? Edge?? WR???) After firing Caldwell and hiring Nielsen at DC, they want to see a defensive unit that makes things easier on T. Law. BMII is powerful and disruptive against both the run and pass. This may even be too low for BMII, who is rated by some more highly than Jalen Carter. Gabe Davis doesn’t stop them from looking at a potential WR1. Everybody they have now is a WR2. I said what I said.

18. Cincinnati BengalsBrian Thomas Jr., WR LSU (OL? DT?? CB???) How about another LSU boi?? BTJ is in the mold of Martavis Bryant, as a fast and large downfield threat who could ease the expected loss of Tee Higgins (especially in the red zone). DT may be an underrated need (no more DJ Reader), as they got no pass rush from that spot last year.

19. Los Angeles RamsJared Verse, Edge FSU (OT? DB?? DT???) Current edge starter, Michael Hoecht dropped into coverage more than any other OLB, but he is not a cover guy, being over 300 lbs. Get a more athletic man who can complement Byron Young on passing downs. Verse is a premium power rushing prospect who can bring some of the nastiness that you are missing with the generational Aaron Donald leaving. Was he tired of carrying, since the Rams had the 2nd lowest pass rush win rate in the league last season? You COULD try to upgrade everywhere EXCEPT at DT, hoping to create a cushy landing spot if AD… say… decided to come back for a playoff run! They may even end up trading up for one of the top pass-rushers.

20. Pittsburgh SteelersAmarius Mims, OT UGA (Edge? CB?? WR???) Guyton first? A big and athletic OT prospect who could play on both sides. Mims is considered a RT (never played on the left at UGA) but said that he takes practice snaps there and is completely comfortable on the left as well. Oh, say less my dude: Broderick Jones wants to eventually move back to the left side, so we’re gucci 💼. We might even be gucc-boots.

21. Miami DolphinsGraham Barton, C/OG/OL Duke (WR? Edge?? DT???) Tua had a league-low average of 2.1 seconds between the snap and throwing the ball or pressure among all starters. They ended 2023 on a scoring cold-streak 🥶especially in KC for the 4th coldest playoff game ever. This would give Miami a lot of versatility to mix and match the 5 best on their line. They can also give new DC, Anthony Weaver, a penetrator up front (like he had in Baltimore) if either of the top two DT’s are left.

22. Philadelphia EaglesQuinyon Mitchell, CB Toledo (DE/DT? OG?? OT???) They allowed the highest passing yards per game totals, allowed the most passing yards and passing TD’s in the league on 3rd downs, then got bullied against Tampa in the wild card round. Bring fear back to Philly and go defense to bolster the Fangio addition. A fluid moving corner with very good ball skills at the catch point and toughness in the run game. Mitchell blazed a 4.33 40-yard dash at the combine, which may cause the Eagles to have to trade up to secure his services.

23. Los Angeles Chargers now (HOU, MIN trade) – Jer’Zhan Newton, DT ILL (OT? CB?? WR???) PART OF THE TRADE PACKAGE DOWN ⤵️FROM 5 WITH THE VIKINGS. Can play the run and the pass especially to give Jim Harbaugh and Jesse Minter a bully up front to match the beasts on the outside. The man who goes by Johnny with his friends said that people only call him by his birth name if he’s in trouble… well you’re in trouble with me homie, for not using the name with that beautiful, slightly swooping apostrophe! Only legends have apostrophes in their names 😉 This completes a prestiging of the trenches to kick off the new regime. It may be that no team needs a DT more. A receiving threat is still a distinct possibility here.

24. Dallas CowboysTyler Guyton, OT Oklahoma (C/OG? DE?? WR???) This pick would allow Tyler Smith to stay at LG, as Jerry wants it. Guyton is a blindside blocker with plenty of size, athleticism and a strong anchor. Let’s keep the confusion rolling, going from a left side of Tyron Smith and Tyler Smith to Tyler Guyton and Tyler Smith! Are Xavier Worthy or Xavier Legette worthy??? Center is in serious consideration if JPJ is here. Maybe get another weapon on the perimeter to lessen the grave reliance on Lamb. Trade for Tee Higgins to untrack the talk of your tired approach to team-building?

25. Green Bay PackersCooper DeJean, DB Iowa (DE? LB?? OG???) Barton as a potential upgrade, and at least great insurance in the inside? I’ve stopped mocking linemen to Green Bay, as they always seem to promote some 4th round pick who plays well. New DC, Jeff Hafley prefers single-high safety looks in the backend, so a rangy center fielder at FS is attractive here as they transition to a 4-3 scheme. The Pack also had a tough time defending TE’s in the playoffs, so a backend defender factors in from that vantage point. DeJean can be a centerfielder, or swap with Xavier McKinney and be in the box. If Jaire’s young understudies on the outside fall short, he can play there too!

26. Tampa Bay BuccaneersChop Robinson, Edge PSU (OT? TE?? CB???) A blazing fast edge rusher would give the Bucs a chance to have a young, interesting and remade defense next year. He may be moving up the charts after running a 4.49 40-yard dash in Indy, tantalizing with potential that didn’t always lead to production. They may go with whichever position has the better value of edge and corner here. Does the recent signing of Randy Gregory sway the scale towards a corner like Nate Wiggins???

27. New Orleans SaintsMichael Penix Jr., QB UW (OG? WR?? Edge??) PROJECTED TRADE UP ⤴️ FROM 45 WITH THE CARDINALS. Look, I know what I said about the Cardinals up top, ok? I’m not sorry! Ossenfort did get the chills when watching Dallas Turner’s workout in Indianapolis…. But the value at that position is gone at this point. This could be a trade down spot for teams looking to secure a 1st-round, 5th-year option with Nix or Penix Jr. That, of course, would allow ‘Zona to drop back and grab pass rush (Braswell, Trice or Kneeland) and corner help (McKinstry, Wiggins or Lassiter) in the 2nd. Here, the Saints brass have to feel the heat underneath their seats… go up and get your guy, because it ain’t Carr. MPJ is an aggressive, downfield thrower who may get a little skittish with pressure. Second-best passer in this class when forced beyond his 1st read, with an 86.2 PFF grade, behind only Caleb Williams’ 1st place 90.6 grade. I say he goes higher than this, but finding the dance partner will be the trick.

28. Buffalo BillsAdonai Mitchell, WR UT (OL? DB?? Edge???) Mitchell is a prototypical WR1 with size and route-running ability. Davis and Diggs both left Allen’s side, and the Bills are being forced to get younger in both sides of the ball. They couldn’t get to Mahomes at all in the playoffs, so you also have to find edge help… Trade up for someone like BTJ, as Von hinted at? Remember what I said about the Jags’ WR’s? I’ll do you one worse: this team has a bunch of WR3’s…

29. Detroit LionsEnnis Rakestraw Jr., CB MIS (OG? WR?? Edge???) Next step is to strengthen the D! No Diddy, but that is the theme of the weekend for this year’s host team. Hutch had the most pressures in the league, time to maximize him as an engine like Santa Clara does with Bosa, and how Cleveland has just now figured out with Garrett. Badly need a bonafide corner to play across from Carlton Davis after seeing Stafford torch both sides of the pass defense in Detroit, then Sutton got roasted in SF. Rumor is that they badly wanted ‘Spoon in the 2023 draft, when Seattle took him in a surprise move one pick before he could become a Lion. This is a somewhat similar player, with energy, physicality and range defining his game.

30. Baltimore RavensDarius Robinson, DL MIS (OT? S??? WR????) Robinson can play inside and out on the D-line, making the front seven fierce and multiple with this selection. It wasn’t until the 4th quarter in the AFC Championship that a WR not named Flowers recorded a catch 😬. Love the addition of Derrick Henry to round off this offense and continue to climb. Any big body wideouts that make sense here as a compliment to Bateman and Flowers? (Coleman maybe, but there are great options in round 2).

31. San Francisco 49ersJordan Morgan, OT Arizona (TE? DB?? WR???) Morgan has to answer questions (ones that popped at the Senior Bowl) about how he can handle speed rushers. He is an athletic, pass protecting tackle, but should he move inside to OG? Seeing as how Colton McKivitz gave up the most sacks of all RT’s in the league (9), I think they’ll roll the dice. Need more receiving threats as your playmakers age (or demand trades). Does that put Worthy (and his fastest recorded 40-yard dash in combine history) in play??? At the end of the day, if you are the Niners, you haven’t had a strong RT prospect since McGlinchey left; Morgan can even try to potentially replace Trent Williams down the line. This would also keep him away from the team that just ended your dreams…

32. Kansas City ChiefsKeon Coleman, WR FSU (Edge? CB?? OT???) Kansas City led the league in dropped passes. Even worse, only one Chiefs WR had more than 460 yards receiving 😮 and none crossed 1K yards. IN A MAHOMES-LED OFFENSE!! A player who can high point the ball on contested catches, and is not a burner, but is reminiscent of D-Hop with the hands and Mike Evan’s with the size. In their quest for the first-ever 3-peat, this team has questions. Will Omenihu play this year after tearing his ACL in the AFC ‘ship? Does Hollywood Brown free them up to take a tackle like Patrick Paul??? Sneed was the type of guy you usually want to keep in a young seconday. That’s also what I thought about Marcus Peters and Charvarious Ward tho.

Teams Without 1st-Round Picks

Carolina Panthers: DT, LB, HB, WR!
They shored up a hemorrhaging interior of the offensive line. Now go find an explosive receiver to let the Carolina offense breathe… people were walking up on ‘em all year.

Cleveland Browns: OG, DB, LB, DT!
The Browns are in position to simply add depth, competition and insurance at a number of positions. Watson is the key to the 2024 season.

Houston Texans: S, LB, CB, OG!
These guys are loading up. They addressed DT, but could MLB still be an option? They could use someone who can play the run and the pass in the middle, especially after Baltimore rolled up 229 on the ground against them to send the Texans to Cancun.

An additional 32 prospects to consider:

Nate Wiggins, CB Clemson
Kool-Aid Mckinstry, CB AL
Xavier Worthy, WR TEX
Jackson Powers-Johnson, C Oregon
Xavier Legette, WR S. Carolina
Bralen Trice, Edge UW
Edgerrin Cooper, LB TAM
Jeremiah Trotter Jr., LB Clemson
Javion Cohen, OG MIA
Ruke Orhorhoro, DE/DT Clemson
Kamari Lassiter, CB GA
Bo Nix, QB OR
Michael Hall Jr., DT OSU
Kris Jenkins, DT UM
Patrick Paul, OT Houston
T’Vondre Sweat, NT TEX
Ja’Tavion Sanders, TE TEX
Devontez Walker, WR UNC
Troy Franklin, WR Oregon
Zach Frazier, IOL WVU
Ladd McConkey, WR UGA
Junior Colson, MLB UM
Chris Braswell, Edge AL
Payton Wilson, LB NCS
Marshawn Kneeland, Edge WM
Malachi Corley, WR WK
Johnny Wilson, WR FSU
Cooper Beebe, OG KSU
Tyler Nubin, S MIN
Kamren Kinchens, S MIA
Roman Wilson, WR UM
Trey Benson, HB FSU