Mid-Free Agency Frenzie Mock Draft
Where do things stand in Round 1 and Round 2 after the first wave of free agency?
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1. Jaguars—DE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
Notes: This feels all but written in stone after the Jaguars made so many moves to beef up the offensive line throughout free agency. I wouldn’t be shocked if they drafted Ikem Ewkonu or Evan Neal to play right tackle, but Hutchinson is such a clean prospect that the fit and value seems too good to pass up.
2. Lions—QB Malik Willis, Liberty
Notes: The first surprise of my mock draft–and no this isn’t for “clicks”. There is a lot of chatter right now that the Lions really like Malik Willis and have since the Senior Bowl (remember, they coached him there). Willis’ arm talent and athleticism are traits you can’t teach and ones we don’t see often. With Jared Goff in the picture for one more year, the Lions can draft and develop Willis without pressure to play him Day 1.
3. Texans—DE Travon Walker, Georgia
Notes: Probably the biggest riser in the class once we got to see the film and athletic numbers on him. Walker was asked to play in a run-support role at Georgia more than as a pure pass-rusher, but when he was allowed to go after the quarterback his production showed. He’s a safer pick at defensive end than anyone not named Hutchinson.
4. Jets—S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
Notes: Pound-for-pound the best player in the draft. Forget positional value and he would be the No. 1 overall selection. Hamilton is a can’t-miss prospect. At worst he’ll be a 10-year starter with a few Pro Bowls under his belt. Not only a difference maker on the field, he’ll help the Jets’ culture too.
5. Giants—OT Ikem Ekwonu, NC State
Notes: The Giants have been pretty quiet in free agency, and I think that’s because Joe Schoen wants to build this team “brick-by-brick” through the draft. First up is a right tackle. Ikem Ekwonu is the best in the draft as a run blocker and has the squatty, tough physique to be the Giants’ version of Tristan Wirfs.
6. Panthers—OT Evan Neal, Alabama
Notes: This would be a surprise fall if you aren’t paying attention to free agency, but the needs at tackle are getting figured out with veteran signings. Neal is the future at left tackle in Carolina and the right pick here rather than reaching for a quarterback. The Panthers played this poorly, putting all their eggs in the Deshaun Watson basket, and could be on the outside looking in.
7. Giants (f/CHI)—CB Sauce Gardner, Cincinnati
Notes: Solving the right tackle position at No. 5 overall is paramount, but figuring out the long-term cornerback situation is too. Sauce Gardner’s length and agility are rare, and the Giants should recognize that. He can be a difference maker from Day 1 at cornerback.
8. Falcons—WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
Notes: Whether it’s Matt Ryan or Deshaun Watson at quarterback next year, the Falcons need help at wide receiver in the worst way. Garrett Wilson is an easy replacement for Calvin Ridley and brings a great route-runner to the offense. His focus drops are a little bothersome, but his ability post-catch is eye-poppingly good.
9. Seahawks (f/DEN)—DE David Ojabo, Michigan
Notes: So many people expect a quarterback here, but I don’t. That’s not how John Schneider works. Seattle’s biggest need is at pass-rusher, and Michigan’s Ojabo has the first-step quicks, length, and raw moves to be a winner from Day 1. With two second-rounders, I expect Seattle to take the “low-risk, high-reward” path to quarterbacking.
10. Jets (f/SEA)—DE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
Notes: I don't think Thibodeaux should go this high, but I do think the Jets are desperate enough to win that they'd ignore the red flags and bet on the upside. And maybe Robert Saleh is the guy to light a fire under his ass, but he's the prospect I'm most afraid of in Round 1.
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