OutKick NFL Mock Draft 3.0: Bears Trade Down Twice, Four QBs Taken In First 7 Picks

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Following the NFL Draft Scouting Combine, we wanted to update our NFL Mock Draft and take a look at the entire first round again. Things will change following pro days and free agency, but this is where we stand as of now.

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

If you want more information on any of the players below, check out our recently released and updated 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. Indianapolis Colts (projected trade with 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, no one knows the Colts like my guy Dan Dakich and Dan says GM Chris Ballard is a “survivor.” That, to me, says he will go the safest route possible and I think Stroud LOOKS safer than Young. Why? He’s got more prototypical QB size and he’s more traditional with regards to staying in the pocket. I believe Young has more upside and elite traits, but Stroud feels a little safer. I think the Colts like safe.

C.J. Stroud is the new #1 overall pick in the latest edition of OutKick NFL Mock Draft.
C.J. Stroud is the new #1 overall pick in the latest edition of OutKick NFL Mock Draft. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

2. Houston Texans – Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

I’ve had the Texans taking Stroud the entire way but with him now off the board, they happily scoop up Bryce Young. Though they’ve tried to misdirect talking about the rest of the roster, the fact is that they need a quarterback. Having arguably the best one on the board fall to #2 is a dream scenario for Houston. They should sprint to the podium with this selection.

3. Arizona Cardinals – Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama

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 go wrong here in terms of needs. I think they’ll take the best defensive player available and now that’s Anderson. Initially, I had Jalen Carter in this spot, but I think his legal troubles push him down the board a bit. Anderson is definitely deserving to be the first defender taken and some people think he’s the overall best prospect in the NFL Draft.

4. Carolina Panthers (projected trade with Bears) – Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

Carolina did not get Derek Carr, as I thought they would, so they need to shift their focus. There’s talk of bringing Sam Darnold back and that makes sense. It makes sense for a team planning to draft a quarterback in the first round. Certainly they’re not going into next season pinning their hopes on Darnold. Levis makes sense for Carolina, though I believe this is a reach (I have Levis at #22 on my Big Board). But with other QB-needy teams out there, both Levis and Anthony Richardson are going to be reached for. And here, the Panthers trade up to get the one they want, and I think it’s Levis over Richardson.

5. Seattle Seahawks – 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 Seattle. The Seahawks made the playoffs last season and recently signed Geno Smith to a three-year deal. I don’t think you make that deal and draft a quarterback in the Top 5. No, they think they can improve from last year. A great way to do that is to get a player who can help you NOW. 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. I think Seattle will prefer his experience.

I'm a big fan of Tyree Wilson and like him in the Top 5 of the latest OutKick NFL Mock Draft.
I’m a big fan of Tyree Wilson and like him in the Top 5 of the latest OutKick NFL Mock Draft. (Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

6. Detroit Lions (acquired from Rams) – Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

Detroit ranked second-to-last in defensive EPA last season (Chicago last). They used the #2 overall pick last season on EDGE rusher Aidan Hutchinson. But they don’t have that big guy in the middle who can really disrupt an offense. This is a great spot to go get that guy. While I think Carter’s value will be slightly suppressed, it’s hard to envision Detroit passing on him here. They can get arguably the most physically-gifted player in the NFL Draft at #6 overall. There are obvious issues. But the talent is hard to ignore.

7. Las Vegas Raiders – Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

With Derek Carr gone, the Raiders need a quarterback. 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.

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). I’d like to know why that is, but assuming there’s no major issue, Murphy is an incredible talent.

9. Chicago Bears (projected trade with Panthers) – Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

Really, this mock draft should just be called “Chicago Bears fans’ dreams come true.” Can you envision a better scenario than trading down TWICE, stockpiling picks and still getting the best wide receiver in the NFL Draft? I honestly cannot. If the Bears are truly committed to Fields — and all indications are that they are — then what better way to help him out than to grab his former Ohio State teammate?

Jaxon Smith-Njigba is the best wide receiver in this NFL Draft class.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba is the best wide receiver in this NFL Draft class. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

10. Philadelphia Eagles (acquired from Saints) – Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

The Eagles entire defensive line is hitting free agency and they can’t keep everyone, as much as they would like to. They can use this Top 10 pick to grab someone who can help replace either Fletcher Cox or Javon Hargrave, or both. Bresee is another player with strong pedigree; in fact, he was the #1 player in the 2020 recruiting class. I wrote in my Big Board piece that Bresee needs a coaching staff that can help him finally translate his massive physical gifts into on-field success. What better place to go than the first team to have four players record 10+ sacks in a season? Match made in heaven.

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

No change here from my last Mock Draft. 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 Cleveland Browns) – Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

In previous mocks, I’ve had the Texans taking CJ Stroud and Jaxon Smith-Njigba at #2 and #12. But in this iteration, neither is an option for those spots. However, after grabbing Bryce Young, they still need to give him some weapons. The Houston offense is completely bereft of talent and Johnson has plenty of that. I think there are some questions about his contested-catch ability, but his size-speed combination is so tantalizing that I think Houston has to take a shot.

13. Washington Commanders (projected trade with Jets) – Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

I think Robinson is one of the top three players in this NFL Draft class, held back mostly by his position. At some point, some team is going to want this kid and I think the Commanders make a move up to grab him. They drafted Brian Robinson in the third round last year, but he only produced 3.9 yards per carry. With a potential game-changer is available — especially for a team likely to lean on a very young, very raw quarterback — you have to make the move.

Bijan Robinson showed at the Combine why he's one of the best players in this year's NFL Draft
Bijan Robinson showed at the Combine why he’s one of the best players in this year’s NFL Draft. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

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

Branch strikes me as the type of player Bill Belichick would love. He’s a smart player, although maybe a little less athletic, who can run an entire 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 has five defensive backs due to hit free agency.

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

This is the one selection that I haven’t changed once, so it’s going to look very stupid if it’s wrong. However, the Packers love using first-round picks on defenders and they need an EDGE rusher. 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 and just makes too much sense to pass up here.

16. New York Jets (projected trade with Commanders) – Joey Porter, Jr., CB, Penn State

Crazy, right? Why would the team who drafted Sauce Gardner 4th overall last year use another first round pick on a cornerback? First, because Porter, Jr. is a potential star that has fallen to #16 in this mock draft. And second, because having two elite cornerbacks is such an incredible luxury for an NFL team to have. Especially an NFL team that has to face Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill twice a year, plus Josh Allen-Stefon Diggs-Gabe Davis. And, in the AFC, perenial contender Cincinnati has two stud wide receivers. If the Jets are serious about Aaron Rodgers and a Super Bowl run, Porter is a “help your team NOW” 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.

Christian Gonzalez is another player who used a strong Combine to vault up NFL Draft boards.
Christian Gonzalez is another player who used a strong Combine to vault up NFL Draft boards. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

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

The cornerback run continues as the Lions snag Smith. Most people believe there is no elite corner in this draft, but there are several with a first-round grade who belong in the middle of this round. Smith is one of those players. There’s debate about which player is the best corner in the class and it’s possible Detroit thinks that’s Smith and they get him at #18 overall as the defensive overhaul continues.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern

I’m listing Skoronski as “offensive line” and not “offensive tackle” because of his short arms. Plenty of teams will not view him as a tackle because his arm length is under 33″ and that’s generally the bench mark. However, his technique is still top-notch and perhaps he can still play tackle. He certainly believes he can. But if not, he could be an elite guard in the NFL. And, outside of Tristen Wirfs, the Bucaneers offensive line was brutal last season. They need help everywhere and Skoronski’s versatility is a good fit.

20. Seattle Seahawks – Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

Again, I think Seattle needs to improve its defense and I think they want experienced players. 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, so we don’t know yet about his athletic profile, 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 – 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 – Jordan Addison, WR, USC

The Ravens love taking average wide receivers right around this spot in the NFL Draft (see: Bateman, Rashod and Brown, Marquise) and why stop now? 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.

It's going to be tough for Calijah Kancey to live up to the Aaron Donald comparisons but some team is going to take him early in the NFL Draft and hope he does.
It’s going to be tough for Calijah Kancey to live up to the Aaron Donald comparisons but some team is going to take him early in the NFL Draft and hope he does. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

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.

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

After signing Daniel Jones and tagging Saquon Barkley 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 so did Smith-Njigba so maybe it doesn’t matter.

26. Dallas Cowboys – Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson

Linebackers don’t carry the value they once did, with teams valuing EDGE rushers, defensive backs and even defensive tackles much more highly. But they can still be very valuable. Dallas learned the hard way that with abysmal linebacker play, you can get exposed. I don’t have Simpson among my Top 30 prospects but he just missed. He’s a great fit in Dallas and Jerry Jones will love that he ran a 4.43 forty, second-fastest among linebackers.

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. Cincinnati Bengals – Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland

Eli Apple talks a lot of trash, but he’s not a particularly good football player. Cincinnati’s best corner, Chidobe Awuzie, tore his ACL midway through the season. The Bengals need to improve their secondary and Banks is a great place to start. 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.

The depth of cornerbacks in this year's NFL Draft is the main thing keeping Deonte Banks stock down.
The depth of cornerbacks in this year’s NFL Draft is the main thing keeping Deonte Banks stock down. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/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. Philadelphia Eagles – Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama

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. This is one of my favorite picks of the entire NFL Draft because it feels like a perfect match. I don’t think Philly wants to have Hurts continue to pile up carries, especially in the regular season, so go get a guy with elite athleticism who can soak up some of that work.

31. Kansas City Chiefs – Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma 

Coming off of a Super Bowl victory, the Chiefs aren’t lacking for talent. But it looks like they’re going to let left tackle Orlando Brown walk as a free agent, so they draft his replacement here. Harrison could end up being the best tackle in this class, so falling here works out great for the Chiefs. It works out great for Harrison, too, who gets to start his career blocking for Patrick Mahomes.

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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  1. Can you envision a better scenario than trading down TWICE, stockpiling picks and still getting the best wide receiver in the NFL Draft?

    As a bears fan yes. Possible to trade with Texans then colts then panthers. How bad does Houston want their guy to not go to a division rival?

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