Editor’s Note: To see all our draft previews, mock drafts, prop betting ideas and more, head to our YouTube page. It’s free!
1. Alabama QB Bryce Young is going first overall.
On Tuesday morning, a bunch of sportsbook steam pointed to Kentucky’s Will Levis potentially overtaking Bryce Young as the favorite to go to Carolina.
On Tuesday afternoon, Jay Glazer reported Young was “obviously” going to be the pick.
Jay Glazer does not miss.
2. Quarterbacks after Bryce Young could slide a bit.
The signal-callers behind Young are concerningly flawed.
C.J. Stroud’s pocket presence is shaky on tape. And he flunked his pre-draft aptitude test.
Will Levis is a one-dimensional pocket passer with major accuracy concerns.
Anthony Richardson made 13 college starts, completing fewer than 55% of his career throws.
Hendon Hooker will be a 25-year-old rookie. He tore his left ACL last November.
I still think five quarterbacks can go in the first round, but I could envision Stroud falling toward the back end of the top 10 — if not out of it altogether — and Richardson landing in the teens or early 20s. Hooker seems genuinely 50-50 to be drafted in the top 31.
3. Bijan Robinson is a lock for the top 12.
Even at a devalued position, Robinson is viewed more by NFL teams as an offensive playmaker than a running back, averaged well over 13 yards per reception in three years at Texas, and tested off the charts athletically before the draft.
And regardless of the devaluation of the position he plays, Robinson is a consensus top-10 player on draft boards around the league. The weakness of this draft ensures he’ll go early.
The Lions at No. 6, Falcons at No. 8, Bears at No. 9, Eagles at No. 10, and Titans at No. 11 are all realistic landing spots.
I think the Texans at No. 12 represent Robinson’s absolute floor.
4. Will McDonald (EDGE, Iowa State) and Anton Harrison (OT, Oklahoma) will go earlier than expected.
Even though they don’t appear in every first-round mock, I think both McDonald and Harrison are virtual lock first-round picks.
McDonald was a prolific pass rusher for three years in the Big 12, then destroyed pre-draft testing. I actually think he could be in play as early as the Eagles at No. 10 overall.
Harrison can play both tackle spots, has over 34-inch arms, and tested better than expected in Indy. I think he’s the fairly clear-cut No. 5 offensive tackle behind Paris Johnson (Ohio State), Peter Skoronski (Northwestern), Broderick Jones (Georgia), and Darnell Wright (Tennessee).
5. Michael Mayer will be the first tight end drafted, and it won’t be close.
I’m old enough to remember when watching football players play mattered.
Mayer’s athleticism has been questioned, but his RAS score was higher than Mark Andrews of the Ravens.
Mayer was a prolific receiving tight end in South Bend and blocks his ass off. He’s dominant in the contested-catch game and, time and again, delivered in the clutch for the Irish, even as defenses sold out religiously to stop him.
At one of pro football’s toughest positions to play, Mayer profiles as an early contributor and long-term difference-maker.
Think Todd Heap.
6. Joey Porter Jr. (CB, Penn State) and Dalton Kincaid (TE, Utah) will go later than expected.
I’m heavily invested in Porter being drafted after pick 16.5 and would even bet he goes later than 19.5, Porter’s updated over/under draft slot on DraftKings. Plus-sized with stiffness in the hips, I think Porter might end up at safety in the pros.
My sense is teams value him less than how he’s regarded by NFL media.
While immensely talented, Kincaid’s pre-draft workout metrics don’t exist. Due to a thoracic back injury, Kincaid hasn’t played football or worked out in a measurable manner since last Nov. 26.
7. No wide receiver will be drafted before pick No. 13.
I think this year’s wide receiver window opens with Green Bay at No. 13, and I’ll have them taking Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State) in my final mock draft Wednesday evening.
Especially when compared to recent drafts, this wideout class is astoundingly weak.
Smith-Njigba, who barely played football last year due to a hamstring injury, is a possession slot on the Jarvis Landry–JuJu Smith-Schuster–Amon-Ra St. Brown spectrum.
None of those players were selected before the late second round of their respective drafts.
Jordan Addison (USC) is 5-foot-11, 173.
Zay Flowers (Boston College) is 5-foot-9, 182.
Josh Downs (North Carolina) is 5-foot-9, 171.
Jalin Hyatt (Tennessee) was essentially a manufactured-touch player in the Vols’ spread.
8. For that reason, I like taking longer-shot bets on Quentin Johnston (TCU) to be the first wide receiver drafted.
Johnston apparently didn’t interview well with teams and doesn’t always play to his size. But he is a prototypically-built alpha receiver in a class otherwise devoid of them.
A hyper-explosive athlete at 6-foot-3, 208, Johnston is a prospect I believe a wideout-needy team could fall in love with and draft quite a bit earlier than expected.
In Bob McGinn’s poll of NFL executives/scouts, Johnston received more votes for being this year’s top wide receiver than Smith-Njigba.
9, 10, and onward. These are bets I like (DraftKings Pricing).
Anthony Richardson to be the fifth overall pick (+330)
C.J. Stroud to be the seventh overall pick (+700)
C.J. Stroud to be the eighth overall pick (+600)
Broderick Jones to be the ninth overall pick (+1100)
Will McDonald to be the 10th overall pick (+4000)