This is the day everyone has been waiting for: the NFL draft. My favorite event of the offseason is seeing hundreds of college players' dreams come true over the course of the next three days. Teams could select a franchise-altering player that becomes a cornerstone, someone you can build around. Thursday could be that day for Matt Rhule, Scott Fitterer, and Co.
This time, I will be predicting all 32 1st round picks:
JAG Round 1 Pick #1: Georgia EDGE Travon Walker
This may come as a surprise to some, but the past few days have seen the Walker-to-Jacksonville train pick up some steam. While Aidan Hutchinson was certainly one of, if not the most, productive defensive college player, Walker is viewed as having untapped potential on a ferocious Georgia defense that will likely see many more selected in the first round. Standing at 6'5 272, the former Bulldog recorded 6.5 sacks alongside the likes of Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt.
Provided he develops well in Jacksonville, Pedersen should have a fearsome pass rusher duo between Walker and former 1st rounder Josh Allen, who has posted a total of 20.5 sacks over his first three years in his professional football career..
DET Round 1 Pick #2: Oregon EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux
Even after the off-field issues, Dan Campbell feels that Thibodeaux can revolutionize their pass rush with 2021 breakout player Romeo Okwara. The former Oregon Duck was once thought of as a surefire #1 pick so his selection here is not much of a surprise. Since 2019, he's posted 35.5 TFLs and 19 sacks. Detroit secures a cornerstone player for the next 10 years; I'd say that's a win.
HOU Round 1 Pick #3: Michigan EDGE Aidan Hutchinson
At this point, Nick Caserio and Houston's front office is running to the podium, elated to have finally secured a potential replacement for beloved defensive end JJ Watt. Hutchinson was seemingly poised to be Jacksonville's pick but a late surge by Travon Walker saw the former Big 10 defensive player of the year slide two more spots.
NYJ Round 1 Pick #4: NC State OT Ikem Ekwonu
Recent reports surfaced that Mekhi Becton had been at OTAs, weighing in around 400 lbs. This should make it interesting for draft night, in a spot where New York could have their "pick of the litter" of elite offensive tackle prospects. In the end, I say the Jets focus on improving protection for young signal-caller Zach Wilson. However, I could also see them selecting someone like Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner too, especially considering the state of their secondary after the loss of Marcus Maye in free agency.
NYG Round 1 Pick #5: Mississippi State OT Charles Cross
While Carolina was reportedly interested in drafting Cross, the Giants also wanted him and draft him a pick earlier. New York ensures that Daniel Jones will have great protection on the outside in the final year of his deal, having selected the "greatest pass protecting left tackle in the draft."
CAR Round 1 Pick #6: Alabama OT Evan Neal
Hallelujah! Praise God! The Panthers have secured a franchise left tackle. Where have the days of Jordan Gross gone? That's what all Panthers fans were wondering during the years of Cam Newton, seeing the previous regime completely disregard the position, taking his generational talent for granted. Enough said about Cam though.
Towering over opponents at 6'7 337 lbs, Neal is an athletic freak for his size. Regardless of who is throwing passes under center, they should be well protected after the upgrades along the offensive line made by Scott Fitterer and the front office this offseason.
NYG Round 1 Pick #7: Cincinnati CB Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner
Considering the trade rumors surrounding former Panther James Bradberry, it wouldn't be crazy to see New York select a lockdown defender in the secondary like Sauce Gardner.
With Joe Schoen seeing the success in Buffalo having Tredavious White, New York secures another piece in the backfield to lock up NFC East receivers like Ceedee Lamb, Devonta Smith, and Terry McLaurin.
ATL Round 1 Pick #8: Ohio State WR Garrett Wilson
Essentially losing Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley in consecutive offseasons, Atlanta needs to get a #1 receiver for bridge quarterback Marcus Mariota to have some form of success in his first season there.
Ohio State has produced some excellent receiver talent as of late, and Garrett Wilson is no exception. Racking up over a thousand yards and 12 TDs, the 6'0 ft receiver should provide some more explosive plays alongside Kyle Pitts.
SEA Round 1 Pick #9: Florida State DE Jermaine Johnson
Seattle simply hasn't had a dominant edge rusher since I dont know when. Bruce Irvin...maybe? Jermaine Johnson has risen up draft boards recently and rumor has it he won't make it out of the top 10. As Pete Carroll tries to rebuild with visions of the Legion of Boom in his head, Johnson can provide that solid edge presence.
NYJ Round 1 Pick #10: Notre Dame S Kyle Hamilton
Robert Saleh will be ecstatic seeing potentially the best player in the draft slide to #10. Having lost Jamal Adams to Seattle and Marcus Maye to New Orleans, the Jets really need someone patrolling that secondary. Defensive coordinators Jeff Ulbrich immediately gets one of the best value picks of the first round, with some predicting Hamilton going as high as #3.
WAS Round 1 Pick #11: Ohio State WR Chris Olave
**TRADE** MIN sends #12 to PIT for #20, #52: Liberty QB Malik Willis
**TRADE** HOU sends #13 to DAL for #24, #56, #129, 2023 3rd: Alabama WR Jameson Williams
BAL Round 1 Pick #14: Northern Iowa OT Trevor Penning
PHI Round 1 Pick #15: USC WR Drake London
NO Round 1 Pick #16: Pitt QB Kenny Pickett
LAC Round 1 Pick #17: Georgia DT Jordan Davis
PHI Round 1 Pick #18: Iowa IOL Tyler Linderbaum
NO Round 1 Pick #19: Boston College IOL Zion Johnson
MIN via PIT Round 1 Pick #20: Purdue EDGE George Karlaftis
NE Round 1 Pick #21: Clemson CB Andrew Booth Jr
**TRADE** GB sends #22 to KC for #29, #94: Penn State WR Jahan Dotson
ARI Round 1 Pick #23: Texas A&M IOL Kenyon Green
HOU via DAL Round 1 Pick #24: Georgia DT Devonte Wyatt
BUF Round 1 Pick #25: Florida CB Kaiir Elam
TEN Round 1 Pick #26: Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder
TB Round 1 Pick #27: Michigan EDGE David Ojabo
GB Round 1 Pick #28: Indiana WR Treylon Burks
GB via KC Round 1 Pick #29: Minnesota EDGE Boye Mafe
KC Round 1 Pick #30: Georgia LB Nakobe Dean
CIN Round 1 Pick #31: Washington CB Trent McDuffie
DET Round 1 Pick #32: Ole Miss QB Matt Corral
The draft will start soon. Let me know what you think in the comments below