Deutsch’s NFL Mock Draft First Round

Here are the final predictions from The Sporting Tribune's Brandon Deutsch on how the first round of the NFL draft will unfold.

1. Carolina Panthers: Bryce Young, 5-10 QB, Alabama

Bryce Young is still -1500 on a lot of sports books and it would be a huge shock to everyone if he doesn’t go #1 overall to the Panthers. Despite his 5-11 frame, Young is the best QB in this draft with an advanced ability to extend plays and read defenses at a high level. Add in his good arm and well above average speed, Young is the surest QB from this class to become a Pro-Bowler.

2. Houston Texans: Tyree Wilson, 6-6 Edge Rusher, Texas Tech

The biggest unknown ahead of Thursday’s NFL Draft is exactly what the Texans will do with the 2nd overall pick. Plenty of reliable sources have determined that Young was the organizations clear top choice, but with him gone at this point, a defensive player being drafted is becoming more likely. Will Anderson Jr. is the most polished Edge Rusher in this class, but Tyree Wilson is a physical beast at 6-6, 276 pounds with elite speed and quickness and my pro comp for him is Myles Garrett. Consistency has been a big question for Wilson and becoming more consistently dominant is needed to reach his potential, but the Texans will have no fear at Wilson reaching his ceiling with DeMeco Ryans at the helm.

3. Arizona Cardinals: Will Anderson Jr., 6-4 Edge Rusher/Linebacker, Alabama

Once a defensive player is taken at 2, the Colts and other teams looking for a QB will sit back knowing they won’t have to give up a whole lot anymore will all QB’s except for Young still on the board. The Cardinals have a bunch of needs but they draft the best player available here, Will Anderson Jr., who is my top rated prospect in the Draft. Anderson’s Sophomore year at Alabama would have made him the 1st overall pick in last year’s weaker draft, and though he didn’t have the Junior season many scouts had hoped for, he still is going to be an excellent NFL player.

4. Indianapolis Colts: C.J. Stroud, 6-3 QB, Ohio State

The Colts would have probably loved to draft Bryce Young, but with him off the board they go with the second safest QB prospect in this Draft, C.J. Stroud. Stroud jumped into the top 5 conversation following an epic performance against the National Champion Georgia Bulldogs where he showed a little bit of everything.

Stroud displayed pinpoint accuracy and was able to extend plays with his legs, even without his top 2 receivers, Jaxon Smith-Njiba (who missed almost the whole season) and Marvin Harrison Jr. (who got injured in the first half and didn’t return to the game).

What prevents Stroud from being a clear #1 prospect in this Draft is his decision making which is far from ideal, and the cushion he played in at Ohio State, surrounded by an awesome offensive line and numerous offensive weapons in college (Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Smith-Njigba, and Harrison Jr. just to name a few). Nonetheless, Stroud should be at the very least an okay NFL QB, but he definitely lacks upside in comparison to this year’s other QB’s.

5. Seattle Seahawks: Anthony Richardson, 6-4 QB, Florida

Anthony Richardson has the ability to become a Superstar in the NFL, as he broke almost every single record at the NFL Draft Combine for a QB. With elite speed (4.43 40 yard dash) and a cannon for an arm, Richardson has the highest upside of any QB prospect in this draft. The only problem was he wasn’t that good in college, completing just 53.8 percent for his passes, and only having a 17-9 TD-Interception ratio. The Seahawks are the perfect destination for Richardson, who can sit and learn behind Geno Smith for a few years before being ready to play in an NFL game and make an impact.

6. Detroit Lions: Devon Witherspoon, 6-0 CB, Illinois

Once the Lions traded former 3rd overall pick Jeff Okudah, it all but confirmed the Lions would be taking Devon Witherspoon, a lockdown Cornerback from Illinois. Sure, the Lions still have Cam Sutton (who they just traded for) and Emmanuel Moseley (who is always hurt), but Witherspoon is the kind of CB to build your secondary around.

He is just that special. Witherspoon’s best trait is his ability to read and adapt to a multitude of different offensive schemes and his innate ability to break up passes at a high level. Opposing WR’s only had a 34.9 completion percentage against him, and though he isn’t the fastest or tallest WR in this draft, he makes up for it with versatility and elite instincts.

7. Las Vegas Raiders: Jalen Carter, 6-3 DL, Georgia

Besides Maxx Crosby, the Raiders don’t have any dominant defensive lineman that can put pressure on the Quarterback. Despite his off the field issues, Jalen Carter is arguably the best overall player in this draft and had an excellent career with two National Championships at Georgia.

8. Atlanta Falcons: Lukas Van Ness, 6-5 Edge Rusher, Iowa

The Falcons have a variety of needs, but rule out CB with this pick considering they just traded for a talented young Corner in Jeff Okudah from the Lions. They will likely make this pick on upside and though Lukas Van Ness didn’t play much at Iowa, scouts love his mix of power and speed at 6-5 272 pounds.

9. Chicago Bears: Paris Johnson Jr., 6-6 OL, Ohio State

The Bears got a haul of a return for the #1 pick. in D.J. Moore and tons of future draft compensation to build around Justin Fields. Now it is time to continue to priortize protecting Fields by getting him arguably the best lineman in the draft in Paris Johnson Jr., out of Ohio State (they were college teammates).

10. Philadelphia Eagles: Calijah Kancey, 6-1 DT, Pittsburgh

The Eagles lost one of their best defensive players, Javon Hargrave, to their NFC rival 49ers, but they have the opportunity to select a pretty good replacement here. Calijah Kancey is the best Defensive Tackle to come out of Pittsburgh since…Aaron Donald. Will he have the same impact and become arguably the greatest defensive player ever? Probably not, but Kancey is a bit undersized just like Donald and ran the fastest 40 yard dash (4.67) by a Defensive Tackle since 2003. He is going to be a problem in the NFL.

11. Tennessee Titans: Will Levis, 6-3 QB, Kentucky

I am not one of the believers in Will Levis, as he was terrible in college and can’t move his feet and get away from pressure. However, the upside that many scouts are drooling over is evident as Levis has an arm you just can’t teach. The people comparing him to Josh Allen obviously haven’t seen the difference between Allen and Levis evading pressure and scrambling.

Allen is fast and strong, Levis is just strong and has happy feet, leading to bad decisions outside of the pocket. The Titans took a big swing at Malik Willis last year, and why not swing for the fences again and see if it works out considering Derrick Henry won’t be a Titan much longer (probably gone at the end of next season) and Ryan Tannehill isn’t gonna contribute much to winning.

12. Houston Texans: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, 6-1 WR, Ohio State

Though they didn’t pick a QB with the 2nd overall pick, the Texans are still enamored with the upside of Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who primarily played slot receiver in college. A lot of scouts question Smith-Njigba’s overall versatility as a WR, and others note a similar career trajectory to Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase since they were used in the slot at times in college as well. I think Smith-Njigba is the next great WR with elite speed and route running, and great hands. He will be a pivotal piece in the Texans rebuild.

13. Green Bay Packers: Jordan Addison, 5-11 WR, USC

Jordan Addison is going to be one of the better receivers in the NFL sooner rather than later. He ran a 4.49 40 yard dash at the combine displaying top end speed, and he is the silkiest route-runner in this draft. What sets him apart from the other prospects in this draft is his explosive first step after catching the football as he should transition into a YAC (yards after catch) monster in the NFL. The Packers just moved on to Jordan Love and their only other young and talented receiver is Christian Watson , meaning I would be surprised if they don’t draft a WR with this pick.

14. New England Patriots: Christian Gonzalez, 6-2 CB, Oregon

The Patriots are going to select a Cornerback, we just don’t exactly know which one. Reports have said they are high on all three of the top 20 graded Corners including Joey Porter Jr., Devon Witherspoon (who will go 6th to the Lions), and Christian Gonzalez.

Porter Jr. is the most NFL ready, but Gonzalez is a bit more raw and has more upside, something Bill Belichick loves to tap into in his rookies each season. Gonzalez is 6-2 that has the longest wingspan of any CB in the draft and is very versatile in all types of coverage. He just isn’t specifically elite at any one thing yet, but the Patriots will feel like they have the personnel to make Gonzalez one of the best CB’s in football.

15. New York Jets: Peter Skoronski, 6-4 OL, Northwestern

Peter Skoronski is so talented that many scouts are saying he could be an All-Pro Guard instead of Offensive Tackle if need be. Skoronski is an easy top 10 talent in this draft, but because of the importance of adding Corners, Wide Receivers, Quarterbacks, and Edge Rushers for the teams above them, the Jets could get lucky and add the best pass-protector in this class for their new 39 year old franchise QB.

16. Washington Commanders: Brian Branch, 6-0 S, Alabama

The Commanders may trade back and accumulate more assets with most of the QB’s already off the board, but if they keep this pick, adding arguably the most versatile player in the draft in Brian Branch (who can line up in all areas of the secondary) is probably the best option.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Joey Porter Jr., 6-2 CB, Penn State

The Steelers have a need at Cornerback and will fill it with the talented Joey Porter Jr., who is 6-2 and the most physical CB in this draft. Some scouts think Porter Jr. is the best Corner in the draft, while others have a late first round grade on him. What remains a consensus is that the Steelers will be taking a CB with this pick and Porter Jr. is by far the best one remaining here.

18. Detroit Lions: Bijan Robinson, 6-0 RB, Texas

Bijan Robinson is a top 5 player in this draft. In fact, he is my 4th rated prospect overall in this class regardless of position. Robinson’s mix of elusiveness, change of direction, power, and speed make him the best RB prospect since Saquon Barkley and the Lions lost Jamaal Williams and haven’t been too pleased with D’Andre Swift‘s performance last season. Offensive Coordinator Ben Johnson loves to use multiple Running Back’s in all aspects of the game and Robinson would be the perfect fit in taking this offense to another level.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Keion White, 6-5 Edge Rusher, Georgia Tech

The Buccaneers take a hard look at Myles Murphy with this pick, but Keion White could be the strongest player in this draft regardless of position. He is 6-5 285 pounds of pure strength and though he doesn’t have the best swim move and first step off the line, he has pure power and should contribute at a high level in the NFL. The Buccaneers would love Robinson to fall to them here, but they pivot to filling a need on the Edge.

20. Seattle Seahawks: Deonte Banks, 6-0 CB, Maryland

The Seahawks bolstered their QB room at pick #5 with Anthony Richardson, and now they select based on need, taking Deonte Banks, a fast (4.35 40 yard dash) and physical Corner that doesn’t really have a weakness.

21. Los Angeles Chargers: Jahmyr Gibbs, 5-11 RB, Alabama

The Chargers would love to add Bijan Robinson, considering the speculation surrounding Austin Ekeler‘s interest in perhaps moving on from the team. However, Robinson is gone and most of the WR’s they will look at will be off the board, meaning they will pivot to plan B, which is likely Jahmyr Gibbs.

Gibbs comes from a lineage of Alabama RB’s that have been successful at the NFL level (Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs just to name a few) and has burst and elusiveness that should translate well to the NFL. What is most important about Gibbs is he is a true 3 down back, something the Chargers have been adamant about finding (Ekeler isn’t a true 3 down back).

22. Baltimore Ravens: Zay Flowers, 5-9 WR, Boston College

Despite adding Odell Beckham Jr. in Free Agency, the Ravens still need to bolster their WR core and who better than Zay Flowers, the ultra quick and athletic Senior out of Boston College. Flowers doesn’t have ideal size at the WR position, but his burst and ability to side-step press and create separation from opposing Corners will make him a solid NFL player.

23. Minnesota Vikings: Myles Murphy, 6-5 Edge Rusher, Clemson

The Vikings need help rushing the QB and Myles Murphy, the strong and ultra athletic Edge Rusher out of Clemson, is seen as a top 10 prospect in the draft by a lot of scouts. The Vikings will select the best player available here and that is Murphy at this point in the draft.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Nolan Smith, 6-3 Edge Rusher/Linebacker, Georgia

The Jaguars have a need at Safety, but Brian Branch went a few picks ago and the second-best Safety in the Draft doesn’t have a first-round grade, meaning they could pivot to taking the best player available here. They also have a need on the Offensive Line, but Nolan Smith had an extremely productive career at Georgia and ran a 4.39 40 yard dash (the fastest mark among Edge Rushers) at the NFL Combine. Smith should be a top 15 pick in this draft and the Jaguars would get lucky here adding a possible future Pro-Bowler.

25. New York Giants: Quentin Johnston, 6-4 WR, TCU

Quentin Johnston has been compared to DK Metcalf a lot, because of size (6-3, 216 pounds) and being an elite vertical threat (think Mike Williams, Metcalf, and Mike Evans), and the Giants absolutely need to add a game-changing WR. Johnston should fit in perfectly in the Giants offense.

26. Dallas Cowboys: Michael Mayer, 6-4 TE, Notre Dame

The Cowboys are another team that would love Bijan Robinson or Jahmyr Gibbs to fall to them, but they also would love to add some depth at the TE position. Sure, they have Dalton Schultz, who has more than proved his worth as a reliable pass-catching option. However, Michael Mayer is a great blocker and an elite target in the red-zone, something to think about when evaluating how to further bolster the offensive scheme. I like this fit and Mayer would do wonders in Dallas.

27. Buffalo Bills: Broderick Jones, 6-6 OL, Georgia

Broderick Jones is seen as a top 15 prospect in this draft, but the Offensive Lineman position isn’t as much as a need for teams this year in the first-round as it has been in the past. The Bills need to protect Josh Allen even more so and Jones has the ability to become an All-Pro Lineman. They draft here on best available, not need.

28. Cincinnati Bengals: Dalton Kincaid, 6-5 TE, Utah

The Bengals absolutely NEED to add an impact Tight End and Dalton Kincaid is the closest prospect to Travis Kelce and George Kittle in recent memory with an innate pass-catching ability, and the strength and quickness to find space in the open field.

29. New Orleans Saints: Brian Bresee, 6-5 DL, Clemson

The Saints are going to look for an impactful Defensive Lineman with this pick and Brian Bresee is a high-motor relentless Defensive Lineman who has an explosive first step and is as strong as an ox (6-5 almost 300 pounds).

30. Philadelphia Eagles: Josh Downs, 5-10 WR, North Carolina

The Eagles sured up their defensive line by selecting Kancey, the second best defensive lineman in the draft, and now they add some versatility at the WR position. They would love Brian Branch to fall to this pick as C.J. Gardner-Johnson went to the Lions, but it isn’t worth reaching on a second-round graded safety. Downs is one of the more underrated WR prospects in this draft with elite speed and good route running. He would fit in perfectly in the WR room for the Eagles.

31. Kansas City Chiefs: Darnell Wright, 6-6 OT, Tennessee

Seeing that all of the first-round graded WR’s are off the board at this point in the draft, the Chiefs will roll the dice on Kadarius Toney and try to snag a WR in the 2nd or third round. At this pick, they will take an offensive tackle, because why not bolster the offensive line to give your Superstar QB even more time to throw. Also, with Orlando Brown Jr. gone, there is a clear need and hole to fill at Offensive Tackle and Wright is one of the more underrated tackles in the class.