OutKick NFL Mock Draft 4.0: Quarterbacks Projected In Spots 1-4, And A 5th QB Enters Round 1

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It’s been a while since we’ve posted an updated NFL Mock Draft. Since we know you’ve been patiently waiting, we figured it was time to take a look at the entire first round again. Some picks have changed, some haven’t.

If you want more information on any of the players below, check out our NFL Draft Big Board.

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. Carolina Panthers (acquired from Bears) – CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State

I have had Bryce Young as the top pick throughout the process and he’s the #1 player on my Big Board. However, Carolina made a massive move to get the #1 pick and that tells me they are going to likely lean as “safe” as possible. To me, Stroud is seen as the safer choice, since he has the prototypical franchise quarterback traits. He is big and likes to stay in the pocket. I still think Young has a higher ceiling, but Mock Drafts are about projecting what teams think and not what I would do. In that case, I think the Panthers like the more traditional Stroud.

2. Houston Texans – Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

In the previous Mock Draft, I had the Colts trading up to #1 to take Stroud. Since I still think the pick is Stroud, albeit to a different team, nothing changes here. Houston is going to take Young if the Panthers take Stroud and they’re going to take Stroud if the Panthers take Young.

3. Las Vegas Raiders (projected trade with Cardinals) – Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

With Derek Carr gone, the Raiders need a quarterback. With two coming off the board at the top and a rush to get their guy, I think Las Vegas makes a trade up. Plus, it’s no secret that the Davis family has always loved incredible athletes. How did that old saying used to go? “Who ran the fastest 40 at the Combine because that’s who the Raiders are taking.” Maybe I made that up. But you get the point. And no one tested better among quarterbacks at the Combine than Anthony Richardson. I don’t necessarily think that’s a good thing. But the Raiders have a history of falling in love for speed and athleticism. There’s no question Richardson has a boatload of both.

Quarterback Anthony Richardson has tantalizing physical tools that make him the #3 overall pick in this NFL Mock Draft.
Quarterback Anthony Richardson has tantalizing physical tools that make him the #3 overall pick in this NFL Mock Draft.(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

4. Baltimore Ravens (projected Lamar Jackson compensation from Indianapolis) – Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

Yes, I’m buying into the hype that Lamar Jackson and Baltimore are done. What better place for him to go than to the former Baltimore franchise? I think the Colts ultimately make the move to get Jackson and as part of the deal give up this selection. So, now Baltimore needs a quarterback and Will Levis is out there. It gives John Harbaugh a more traditional passer with which to work and last time he had that, he won a Super Bowl with Joe Flacco.

5. Seattle Seahawks (acquired from Broncos) – Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama

Talk about a COUP! With quarterbacks hogging the first four spots in the NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks luck themselves into the best defensive player in the draft, and arguably the best football player in the entire prospect pool. This would be one of the easiest picks in NFL Draft history

6. Detroit Lions (acquired from Rams) – Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

Detroit ranked second-to-last in defensive EPA (expected points added) last season (Chicago last). They used the #2 overall pick last season on EDGE rusher Aidan Hutchinson. Then they went into free agency and completely remade their secondary. But they don’t have that big guy in the middle who can really disrupt an offense. They probably wish Jalen Carter wasn’t marred with so many problems, because that’s who I thought they’d take here. But Bresee has incredible pedigree; in fact, he was the #1 player in the 2020 recruiting class. That talent is enough to get him taken here, which some people might view as a reach, but is a great fit for the Lions.

7. Arizona Cardinals (projected trade with Raiders) – Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

I love Tyree Wilson. Let me just get that out of the way. He also makes a ton of sense for Arizona. They trade down with a quarterback-needy team and acquire additional capital while getting a heck of a player at #7. Wilson is older than most prospects (turns 23 in May) because he spent five seasons in college. He’s much more polished than other players who might have stronger physical profiles. That’ll be helpful for the Cardinals’ young defense.

8. Atlanta Falcons – Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson

The Falcons ranked 28th in defensive EPA, bottom five in the league, last season. With Desmond Ridder drafted last season, Atlanta seems to at least be willing to give him a shot. They need some weapons, but they’ve spent first round picks on Kyle Pitts and Drake London over the past couple seasons so it’s time to start working on the other side of the ball. Murphy has crazy pedigree (Top 10 recruit nationally out of high school) but he came into the Combine weighing 17 pounds less than he was listed at Clemson (275 pounds vs. 258). Then, he weighed 10 pounds heavier at Clemson’s Pro Day (268) and did not work out. Now, he’s holding a private workout on April 4. There’s a lot going on with Murphy, but he’s a Top 10 talent.

Defensive lineman Myles Murphy has had an interesting NFL Draft season but we still think he's a Top 10 pick in this mock draft.
Defensive lineman Myles Murphy has had an interesting NFL Draft season but we still think he’s a Top 10 pick in this mock draft. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

9. Chicago Bears (acquired from Panthers) – Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

Well, quite a bit has changed since the last mock draft for the Chicago Bears. They trade down with Carolina and acquire wide receiver DJ Moore along with a cache of draft picks. Massive win for them, especially getting Moore who is a dynamite player and vastly underrated. With him in the fold, it’s time to start working on that TERRIBLE defense. League-worst defense, in fact. And, why not do it by taking a big swing? Carter could be an NFL bust. He’s got legal issues, he put on weight between the NFL Combine and Georgia’s Pro Day and there are questions about his love of football. All bad. But his physical gifts are off-the-charts. He’s a risk but at #9 overall, probably worth taking.

10. Philadelphia Eagles (acquired from Saints) – Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

Free agency hit the Eagles hard and they had to make some tough choices. Now, they have to start filling the big holes left by CJ Gardner-Johnson, Javon Hargrave, TJ Edwards and others. I thought for sure they’d be looking for cornerback help, but the re-signed both Darius Slay and James Bradberry. And, they managed to keep their defense relatively in tact. That being said, I think they go get one of the best pure football players in the NFL Draft. They’ve got immense talent on the outside in AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith, now they add a playmaker in the backfield. This Eagles offense could be the best in football next season.

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

No change here from, well, any of my Mock Drafts. Tennessee desperately needs offensive line help and after Peter Skoronski measured less than 33″ arm length at the Combine, Johnson is the clearly #1 tackle available. He’s the #9 overall player available on my Big Board, too, so Tennessee gets some value here as well.

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

In previous mocks, I’ve had the Texans taking CJ Stroud and Jaxon Smith-Njigba at #2 and #12 and pairing the two Ohio State products together. Then, I had Smith-Njigba going higher than 12 in later drafts. But with the way this one falls, I can see Smith-Njigba dropping, even though I think he’s the clear #1 wide receiver in this class. It has more to do with the teams in front, though. It’s going to be important to give Bryce Young weapons, and this is one of the best options.

13. New York Jets – Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern

The Jets are absolutely not going to allow anyone to complain that they didn’t surround Aaron Rodgers with enough talent on offense. They spent big in free agency to get Allen Lazard and Mecole Hardman to add to Garrett Wilson. Now, they go get one of the best OL prospects in the NFL Draft. Skoronski’s short arms may prevent him from being a franchise left tackle, but that’s OK for New York. He’s polished and NFL-ready, plus versatile enough to move around the line. Left tackle Mekhi Becton is coming off a season-ending injury, as is guard Alijah Vera-Tucker. Right tackle Max Mitchell is dealing with blood clots. Skoronski can fill-in for any of them should they need it, or could find a home at left guard where Laken Tomlinson struggled should everyone else stay healthy.

There are questions about Peter Skoronski playing left tackle at the NFL level, but the Jets would love to have his versatility.
There are questions about Peter Skoronski playing left tackle at the NFL level, but the Jets would love to have his versatility. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

14. New England Patriots – Brian Branch, S, Alabama

A lot of people thought the Patriots would go out and sign safety Jessie Bates from Cincinnati because he’s a “Belichick-type” of player who can lead a defense. But the reason they didn’t, I believe, is because Belichick has his eyes on a younger, cheaper version of Bates. Branch is a smart player, although maybe a little less athletic than others, who can run the defense. He’s also extremely versatile. I like Branch quite a bit but a lot of other evaluators have him down their board. It would be quite the Belichick thing to do to “reach” for a guy that lacks elite athleticism. Except I don’t think this is a reach at all and Branch fits perfectly for a team that lost Devin McCourty to retirement.

15. Green Bay Packers – Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

This is my new favorite pick in the entire NFL Mock Draft. How funny would it be if the Packers — who famously refused to draft a wide receiver in the first round with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback — immediately used a first-round pick on a receiver after Rodgers got traded? I also think it’s entirely plausible. It’s both a “screw you” to Rodgers, plus the Packers admittedly need some weapons. They lost Allen Lazard to free agency and Johnston makes a lot of sense here. And it’s funny.

16. Washington Commanders – Joey Porter, Jr., CB, Penn State

In my last Mock Draft, I had the Commanders trading up with the Jets to get Bijan Robinson. Here, that’s not an option. The funny part, though, is that I had the Jets drafting Porter at #16 following the trade. But Porter also makes sense for Washington. While their defense is strong, it lacks a true #1 cornerback. Porter has the tools to be that guy.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

The Steelers need some defensive help and some believe Gonzalez is the best defensive back in the NFL Draft. I do not, but I think he is very good. After seeing Porter come off the board, Pittsburgh realizes the run on cornerbacks is coming and they grab the second-best available in Gonzalez. He dominated at the Combine and showed crazy athleticism that the Steelers defense needs, especially trying to compete against Cincinnati and Cleveland.

18. Detroit Lions – Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama

Believe it or not, the Lions roster is actually pretty strong. After getting Bresee with their first pick, there’s not a true glaring need. They could add another cornerback, but why not go get another exceptional athlete? That’s what Gibbs is. He’s a luxury, to be sure, but for the first time in a long time the Lions are in position to draft a luxury item and I think they take it.

 Jahmyr Gibbs showed some elite athleticism at the scouting combine and would be a nice pick for the Detroit Lions in the Top 20 of the NFL Draft.
Jahmyr Gibbs showed some elite athleticism at the scouting combine and would be a nice pick for the Detroit Lions in the Top 20 of the NFL Draft. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma 

Outside of Tristen Wirfs, the Bucaneers offensive line was brutal last season. They need help everywhere and after signing Baker Mayfield, they really need to protect him. The only thing worse than having Baker Mayfield as your starting quarterback is having an unprotected Baker Mayfield as your starting quarterback.


20. Seattle Seahawks – Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

Witherspoon had one elite season in college (last season) but he played four at Illinois. So, he’s played plenty of football. He didn’t work out at the Combine, and no real news came from his Pro Day, but last season he was one of the best corners in all of college football. I think the Seahawks value that experience and the fact he’s gotten better every season.

21. Los Angeles Chargers – Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia

I’ve had the Chargers taking Michigan DT Mazi Smith for a while, but I’m making a change here. Why? Because previously Nolan Smith was not available. But now he is. And they cannot pass on him at #21. Smith showed out at the Combine and is a former #1 overall recruit out of high school (Class of 2019). He adds speed and athleticism to a defensive line that needs it.

22. Baltimore Ravens – Jordan Addison, WR, USC

After losing Lamar Jackson and drafting his replacement earlier in the first round, they need to start surrounding Levis with talent. I don’t particularly love Addison, but he’s probably the best wide receiver available here. He didn’t show any elite traits during the Combine but he does have some decent tape. The Ravens GM is under fire for his poor wide receivers and seems desperate to try and get it right. So, he takes another “swing” (his words) here.

23. Minnesota Vikings – Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh

Kancey’s NFL Draft Combine performance generated some of the most buzz out of anyone. He ran the fastest 40-yard dash for a defensive tackle, ever. He ran it in 4.67 seconds, .01 of a second quicker than Aaron Donald in 2014. Kancey is undersized, though, which keeps his stock a little deflated. He’s 6’1″ and 281 pounds with arms under 31″ in length. Those numbers are similar to Donald, against whom many people are comparing Kancey. However, Donald’s arms are MUCH longer (32 1/2″). Either way, Aaron Donald comparisons get you drafted and the Vikings need defense BADLY. Brian Flores would probably love to have this kid.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars – Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State

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 an absolute mountain of a human being. Jones measured at 6′ 8″ and 374 pounds with 36 1/2″ arms. That’s ludicrous.

Dawand Jones' measurements alone get him a Top 25 pick in this NFL Mock Draft.
Dawand Jones’ measurements alone get him a Top 25 pick in this NFL Mock Draft. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

25. New York Giants – Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee

After signing Daniel Jones, tagging Saquon Barkley, and trading for Darren Waller the Giants … still need wide receivers. It’s the worst-kept secret in the NFL at this point. They have to get some playmakers on the outside and ideally some speed. I think Hyatt is a little bit of a reach here (he’s not in my Top 30 prospects) but his 4.4 forty at the Combine solidified what we already know: kid is fast. He also posted the longest broad jump of all wide outs and the fourth-highest vertical leap. He’s an athlete who had one great season at the college level. But Smith-Njigba only had one great season, too, so maybe it doesn’t matter. Though, Tennessee is not the wide receiver factory that Ohio State is.

26. Dallas Cowboys – Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson

A lot of people think Dallas is targeting Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer to replace Dalton Schultz, but I don’t think so. Schultz’ replacement is already on the roster and his name is Jake Ferguson. The Cowboys learned the hard way that with abysmal linebacker play, you can get exposed. I don’t have Simpson among my current Top 30 prospects but he just missed (and may join the next Big Board, stay tuned). He’s a great fit in Dallas and Jerry Jones will love that he ran a 4.43 forty at the Combine, second-fastest among linebackers. Plus, he had a great showing at Clemson’s Pro Day, posting a ridiculous 40.5″ vertical jump.

27. Buffalo Bills – Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa

Van Ness is raw and inexperienced, but the kid oozes talent. Buffalo needs guys like him on defense — super athletic and a relentless motor. He won’t be an every-down player, but that’s OK because Buffalo has Von Miller — who will need plays off due to age — and Gregory Rousseau. I like Van Ness’ attitude for Buffalo, a team that needs some toughness on defense. They got pushed around badly in the playoffs this season.

28. Los Angeles Rams (projected trade with Bengals) – Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee

Oh, baby! Let’s get spicy! The Rams have virtually no first round picks after selling the farm for a Super Bowl championship in 2021-22, but after a poor season do still pick early in Round 2 (36th overall). I say they flip that pick to Cincinnati, along with others, and go get Hooker. Hooker is receiving some buzz as a first-round pick and he makes sense to the Rams. Sean McVay has shown an ability to win with virtually any quarterback and adding Hooker’s athleticism would be fun for the head coach. Plus, Matthew Stafford appears to have maybe one more season in him. That’s great, too, because as a first-round pick, the Rams can get a fifth-year option on the rookie QB. He can sit for one season behind Stafford, then the team gets four years to evaluate.

Surprise! The Rams trade up to get their future quarterback in this NFL Mock Draft.
Surprise! The Rams trade up to get their future quarterback in this NFL Mock Draft. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)

29. New Orleans Saints (acquired from Denver Broncos, via Miami Dolphins, originally from San Francisco 49ers) – Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College

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 a draft-day swap and last season. Now that Derek Carr is on-board, the Saints need to get him some weapons. Olave is a burner on the outside, and Flowers is a great complement as a slot guy.

30. Cincinnati Bengals (projected trade with Eagles) – Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina

So, the Bengals trade back with the Rams but then trade up with the Eagles who love to stockpile picks. Cincinnati still needs secondary help and their best corner, Chidobe Awuzie, tore his ACL midway through last season. With Smith still on the board this late in the mock draft, Cincinnati calls up Philadelphia to get back into the first round to take him.

31. Kansas City Chiefs – Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland

Coming off of a Super Bowl victory, the Chiefs aren’t lacking for talent. This draft is loaded with talented cornerbacks and Banks really wowed at the Scouting Combine. He posted an incredibly quick 4.35 forty time (3rd best among CB), along with a 42″ vertical (tops among CB) and an 11′ 4″ broad jump (second among CB). There are years Banks would be one of the first couple defensive backs off the board, but based on the glut, Cincinnati gets a good player late in the first round.

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

Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @OutkickDanZ

Written by Dan Zaksheske

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.

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