OutKick NFL Mock Draft 2.0: QBs, Defense Dominate Top 8 Picks

Now that the Super Bowl is over and the first 31 selections are locked in for the NFL Draft, it's time for OutKick's complete first round mock draft!

If you've been following along with all of our mock drafts so far, you'll notice several changes throughout our latest piece. After talking to people around the league and delving more deeply into available players, we have revisited the entire first round.

Reminder -- the Miami Dolphins forfeited their first-round pick as punishment from the league for tampering with Tom Brady and Sean Payton, which is why there are 31 picks and not 32.

1. Chicago Bears - Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

In my first iteration of the mock draft, I had the Colts trading into this spot and taking Young. However, from talking to people, I get the sense that the Bears trading Justin Fields and taking a quarterback is a real possibility. I think that's the correct play. Fields is entering his third season in the league and the Bears are going to have to make a decision on his future soon. And that decision could involve over $100 million.

Instead, Chicago get its pick of franchise QB and the clock starts over. Let someone else take the risk on tying themselves to Fields and get some compensation for him in return.

2. Houston Texans - CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State

I've had the Texans taking Stroud the entire way and I don't see it changing ... yet. I think there's a chance they fall in love with Will Levis and his physical tools and they reach to take the Kentucky quarterback here. I want to wait and let the NFL combine play out before making that assessment. For now, I think the second-best QB prospect is Stroud and he goes #2 overall.

3. Arizona Cardinals - Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

The Arizona Cardinals roster is full of holes and now reports are coming out that Kyler Murray could miss half of next season. They really can't wrong here in terms of needs. I'm hearing a lot of buzz that NFL people think Carter is the best overall defensive prospect in the NFL Draft, and that makes sense for a Cardinals team that finished in the bottom 10 in the league in expected points added by defense.

4. Indianapolis Colts - Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

I'm sticking with the idea that Indianapolis needs to draft a quarterback. They've spent the last three seasons working their way through poor veteran quarterback play with Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan. I don't love Levis as a prospect, but there's no doubt in my mind that a team is going to reach for him in the Top 10. Here, I think that reach comes from the Top 5.

5. Seattle Seahawks - Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama

If this scenario actually plays out, the Seahawks should sprint to the podium with their selection. Widely regarded for a long time as the top defensive player in the draft, Anderson slides down due to quarterback desperation. I think Seattle needs to look at drafting a young guy to play behind Geno Smith who probably gets a two-year deal from the team to stay. But for a team that made the playoffs last season, they could use some help up front on defense and Anderson provides an immediate boost. The Seahawks defense ranked 27th in expected points added in 2022.

6. Detroit Lions (acquired from Rams) - Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

Another guy already garnering a ton of buzz is Wilson out of Texas Tech. You think the Seahawks defense is bad? Detroit ranked second-to-last in defensive EPA last season (Chicago last). Originally, I had them selecting a cornerback, but there are questions if there is a true shutdown corner in this NFL Draft. Because of that, I think they grab a bookend to go with last year's #2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson. A defense can turn around quickly with a premiere pass rush, and that's a viable strategy for the Lions.

7. Las Vegas Raiders - Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

Yes, the Raiders have to deal with the Derek Carr saga. Who knows what they're going to do at quarterback next season. But the theme of the Top 10 in this draft is either drafting a franchise QB or remaking a bad defense. The Raiders ranked just ahead of Detroit but sat 30th in defensive EPA. Maxx Crosby is great off the edge and Andrew Billings bounced back from a terrible 2021 in the middle of the DL. But adding a true power guy in the middle like Bresee give Las Vegas a formidable front, something desperately needed playing in the AFC West against Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert.

8. Atlanta Falcons - Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson

Back-to-back Clemson defensive lineman go in this mock draft iteration. Murphy is a guy who some rank as a top-five talent and Atlanta would do well to get someone like him in the building. What do you know, another Top 10 pick for a team whose defense was atrocious in 2022. The Falcons ranked 28th in defensive EPA, bottom five in the league.

9. Carolina Panthers - Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

Ultimately, I think Derek Carr winds up in Carolina. That's the sense I get from discussing his options with people. Should that be the case, they need to get some talent around him. DJ Moore is an unheralded star who will benefit from having a competent NFL quarterback throwing him the football, and he'll benefit even more from having some of the attention off of him. Moore is 6'0", though, and the Panthers could use a big-bodied wideout to go opposite him. Grabbing the 6'4" TCU product makes almost too much sense to not happen.

10. Philadelphia Eagles (acquired from Saints) - Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

Having a Top 10 pick coming off a Super Bowl appearance is such a massive W for Eagles GM Howie Roseman. The Eagles don’t have a ton of weaknesses, obviously, and could look to move this pick for even more draft capital to improve depth. But a young, stud CB makes sense and they can stay in the state of Pennsylvania to do it. James Bradberry had a good season, but he’s going to be 30 next season and is a free agent. Their other top corner, Darius Slay, is 32.

11. Tennessee Titans - Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State

There's debate about who the best tackle in this draft class is -- it could be Johnson, or Peter Skoronski, perhaps even Anton Harrison -- but there is no debate that the Titans need offensive line help. Playing at Ohio State, Johnson is used to going up against NFL talent on the opposing defensive line. In addition, he was a Top 15 prospect coming out of high school, so his pedigree is ridiculously strong. Those factors give him the nod as the first offensive tackle off the board.

12. Houston Texans (acquired from Cleveland Browns) - Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

Two Houston Texans picks, no changes. I'm in love with the idea that Houston will pair Ohio State quarterback CJ stroud with his college teammate. Smith-Njigba was injured in 2022 but before that he was seen as a Top 10 talent. I think teams are hoping his medicals push him down the NFL Draft board because his talent is undeniable. Plus, with the immediate emergence of both Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, it's clear Ohio State prepares wideouts for the NFL. No better way to make your rookie quarterback comfortable than by giving him a guy he knows and can grow with.

13. New York Jets - Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

The New York Jets are a fascinating team. Their defense was actually quite good last season, fifth in the NFL in defensive EPA. Their offense was solid, despite terrible quarterback play. They have young pieces at running back (Breece Hall) and wide receiver (the aforementioned Garrett Wilson plus Elijah Moore) but why not keep adding matchup nightmares? That's exactly what Mayer represents. Should the Jets get a veteran QB like Aaron Rodgers or Derek Carr, building an offense ready to compete next season is the logical move.

14. New England Patriots - Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

I know, I know. there's no way Bill Belichick is going to use a Top 15 NFL Draft pick on a running back, right? I'm not so sure about that. Robinson is a guy that people think could be an absolute monster in the NFL and he's not just a running back. Texas frequently used him in the slot and he can catch passes like a receiver. In today's NFL, running backs have to be able to contribute in the pass game, especially when the team's starting quarterback is a statue. Cough, Mac Jones. Robinson is likely the best player on the board at this point and that's hard to pass up, despite his position.

15. Green Bay Packers - Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia

I'm sticking with Nolan Smith here. My original write-up on the Packers still feels correct and we just need to wait and see what happens with Rodgers, are they committing to Jordan Love, etc. They need defensive help up front. Their secondary is quite good with Jaire Alexander, Rasul Douglas, and Rudy Ford. Plus, they drafted Eric Stokes highly last season. They like taking defensive players in the first round and Rashan Gary is a solid edge rusher, but the Packers could use a bookend to round out the front.

16. Washington Commanders - Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern

The Commanders need offensive weapons to complement their strong defense. However, none of their starting offensive linemen ranked in the Top 30 in the NFL at his position. That's ... not ideal. If the plan is to going into next season with 2022 third-round pick Sam Howell at quarterback, the Commanders need to invest in some protection. Skoronski falling to 16 would be a God-send and Washington should jump at the opportunity to take him.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers - Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma

The Steelers need some defensive help and I originally thought they might go that way. But with Harrison still on the board, Pittsburgh needs to protect their franchise quarterback in Kenny Pickett. They have weapons for him -- Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth -- but those don't matter if no one can block up front. The Steelers tackles were BAD in 2022. Like, unbelievably terrible. Harrison will be a Day 1 starter in Pittsburgh.

18. Detroit Lions - Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina

As mentioned in their first selection, the Lions needs defense badly. They can use help everywhere, but a potential number one cornerback should be near the top of the list. Like all the other cornerbacks in this draft, it's unclear right now who the best of the bunch will be. It seems that every person you ask gives you a different answer. The Lions take a shot that it's going to be Smith.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee

There's no question the Tampa Bay Buccaneers need speed. They have practically none on offense and Hyatt is an immediate shot in the arm to a stagnant and anemic offense. We don't yet know who is going to throw him the ball, but at least he adds that "take the top off the defense" element that Mike Evans is starting to lose as he gets older. And Chris Godwin is more of a middle-of-the-field receiver.

20. Seattle Seahawks - Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa

In my first mock draft, I had Seattle taking Florida QB Anthony Richardson and letting him develop behind Geno. I think they could still do that. They could also wait and take a project QB later. But, as I wrote for their first pick, their defense was laughably bad this season. Grabbing someone like Van Ness, who lacks experience but oozes ability, is the kind of risk-reward guy to grab at this stage of the NFL Draft and hope for more reward and less risk.

21. Los Angeles Chargers - Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan

No one needs run defense more than the Chargers who finished last in the category in 2021 and were bottom 10 again this season. Mazi Smith is a big, powerful interior defender who should rise up draft boards. Some might think this is a reach but in terms of talent and need, there isn't a better fit for Los Angeles. And they just need some toughness. Smith is a tough dude.

22. Baltimore Ravens - Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College

The Ravens appear poised to give Lamar Jackson the franchise tag and if they can't work out a deal, the Jackson contract saga will drag out another year. That's actually a smart move by Baltimore. They elected to go into this season without a long-term deal and all the problems that come with giving Jackson a massive contract -- like the injury history and lack of playoff success -- played out this season. The team should absolutely try to keep him on a year-to-year basis rather than commit for the long haul. That being said, they have to get more playmakers into the offense. They've seemingly avoided doing so for years, so now's the time to get a Top 5 receiver from this NFL Draft class.

23. Minnesota Vikings - Brian Branch, S, Alabama

The Vikings defense cost them a chance to advance in the playoffs. They were terrible against the Giants, and mostly bad all season. They had injuries in the secondary to both players drafted highly last year -- Lewis Cine and Andrew Booth -- however Branch is better than both as a college prospect. He will be valuable in the NFL because he will play mostly safety, but can also slide down and guard the slot. The Vikings needs athletes all over the field on defense, but Branch is a key building block.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars - Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

I wrote up an offseason plan for the four teams eliminated in the Divisional Round starting with the Jaguars. In it, I discussed their need to protect Trevor Lawrence, which should help him keep the turnovers in check, a major issue this season. With that in mind, Jacksonville grabs the best tackle remaining on the board and that’s Jones.

25. New York Giants - Jordan Addison, WR, USC

The worst-kept secret in the NFL is the Giants need to add offensive playmakers. The fact they were able to win a playoff game with the likes of Isaiah Hodgins, Darius Slayton and Richie James is nothing short of incredible. Obviously, the need is to add some talent on the outside. I think the Giants will look to trade up if there's a guy they really want -- maybe Jalin Hyatt or Jaxon Smith-Njigba -- but for now they stay put and snag Addison. It helps that Drake London had a good rookie season despite playing in the Falcons terrible passing offense, so dipping into the USC well makes sense.

26. Dallas Cowboys - Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

It's very easy to see Jerry Jones falling in love with Kelee Ringo's incredible speed and wanting to add him to the defense. Cowboys fans are clamoring for a cornerback in the first round and Ringo fits the bill. Micah Parsons can rush the passer like few can, and having some backend speed on the defense would help elevate them to the next level.

27. Buffalo Bills - BJ Ojulari, EDGE, LSU

For a team that many believe is very close to a Super Bowl, the Bills have a lot of holes to fill. They got nearly zero pressure on Joe Burrow and the banged-up Bengals offensive line in their playoff loss. The Ravens sacked Burrow four times in the Wild Card round and the Chiefs dropped him five times in the AFC Championship. The Bills recorded one sack against the Bengals. Ojulari brings speed off the edge that Buffalo desperately needs. If his last name seems familiar, it's because his brother -- Azeez -- was a second-round pick of the Giants in 2021.

28. Cincinnati Bengals - Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

Although Eli Apple is an elite trash-talker, he is not an elite NFL cornerback. Chidobe Awuzie is a solid outside corner, but unspectacular. There are people who believe Witherspoon is the best cornerback available in the NFL Draft this season and he definitely fills a big need for Cincinnati. None of the Bengals corners ranked in the Top 30 at the position, according to PFF. Plus, they could lose safety Jessie Bates to free agency, so they need to add athletes in the backend of the defense.

29. New Orleans Saints (acquired from Denver Broncos, via Miami Dolphins, originally from San Francisco 49ers) - O'Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida

Talk about a well-traveled NFL Draft pick. The original owner of the pick was the San Francisco 49ers, which is why it slots at 29 following their elimination in the NFC Championship. San Francisco traded it to the Miami Dolphins as part of the package the 49ers used to acquire quarterback Trey Lance. Miami traded it to Denver in a midseason deal for pass rusher Bradley Chubb. Now, the pick goes to New Orleans as compensation for the Broncos acquiring head coach Sean Payton. Got all that?

So now the Saints have the selection, which is important because they traded their own first-round pick to the Eagles in draft-day swap and last season. The Saints have a solid tackle in Ryan Ramczyk and drafted Trevor Penning in the first round last year with one of the picks they got from the Eagles. But their interior offensive line is a mess. Their guard play was arguably the worst in the NFL and because guard isn't as premium as tackle, the Saints can grab the best interior offensive lineman even with a pick just inside the Top 30. That's what they elect to do here.

30. Philadelphia Eagles - Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama

Two first-round picks following a Super Bowl appearance? Howie Roseman is hands-down the NFL's executive of the year. They grabbed a cornerback with their first selection in this mock draft and I see them going offense with the second selection. Miles Sanders is a free agent and the Eagles would be wise to let him walk and not pay big money to a back. Gibbs comes from the Alabama system, so he'll be comfortable and familiar with the Jalen Hurts-led RPO-style offense.

31. Kansas City Chiefs - Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

A team that reached its fifth-consecutive AFC Championship game this season and third Super Bowl in five years (and second championship) isn't exactly hurting for talent, though they have some areas to address. Their offensive and defensive lines are both very strong, but they need more athletes on the outside on both offense and defense. There aren't any first-round graded receivers left here, so the Chiefs elect to go defense and grab another cornerback who COULD be the best in this NFL Draft. Sensing a theme with the DBs? L'Jarius Sneed is a solid corner, but has just one year left on his deal before becoming a free agent.

Stay tuned for continuous mock draft updates throughout NFL Draft season!

Written by

Dan began his sports media career at ESPN, where he survived for nearly a decade. Once the Stockholm Syndrome cleared, he made his way to OutKick. He is secure enough in his masculinity to admit he is a cat-enthusiast with three cats, one of which is named "Brady" because his wife wishes she were married to Tom instead of him.