J.T. Olson’s Pre Combine First Round Mock Draft


The combine is upon us and soon NFL draft boards will be shifting. In theory not much should change, but between the workouts, interviews and medical checks there always seems to be some chaos as a result. Before that happens, I wanted to project things where they stand right now. Without further ado, here is my predictive first round mock draft.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Evan Neal

After drafting Trevor Lawrence first overall last year the Jags need to do everything possible to support their franchise quarterback. Neal is a rare blend of size and movement ability to protect the blindside.

2. Detroit Lions – Aidan Hutchinson

Hutchinson is a foundational player, both in terms of talent and culture. He’s a perfect fit for the hometown Lions to build around.

3. Houston Texans – Kyle Hamilton

Many people view Hamilton as the best player in the draft. His range and ball skills are excellent. Combine that with the fact that he’s a great athlete at 6’4 and he’s truly a rare specimen.

4. New York Jets – Kayvon Thibodaux

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. The Jets have my top ranked prospect fall into their laps and get a huge value for a potentially dominant pass rusher.

5. New York Giants – Ikem Ekwonu

The Giants have invested resources into their offensive line in recent years with mixed results. Ekwonu is a big powerful blocker who looks like a sure thing. Even if he struggles at tackle, he’s a guy who looks like he could be an excellent guard.

6. Carolina Panthers – Charles Cross

I can’t remember the last time the Panthers had stability at left tackle. Cross might be the best offensive tackle in the draft and should be in the conversation to go first overall. This would be great value for Carolina.

7. New York Giants – Travon Walker

Walker is a unique athlete. His size and explosiveness jump off the screen. Expect him to be a big riser after the combine.

8. Atlanta Falcons – Derrick Stingley

The Falcons had one of their worst defenses in franchise history last year. Their only real building block as they prepare to enter a rebuild is AJ Terrell. Pairing Stingley along side of him gives them a long term identity.

9. Denver Broncos – George Karlaftis

You can never have too many good pass rushers. With Von Miller being traded away last season the Broncos need a running mate for Bradley Chubb. Karlaftis looks like a very good pass rushing prospect, so I’m not going to overthink this.

10. New York Jets – Treylon Burks

Burks is expected to test like a freak athlete. A rare blend of size, speed and agility who has very good hands. After the combine I expect him to be the consensus top wide receiver off the board.

11. Washington Commanders – Sam Howell

There are a lot of questions with this quarterback lass overall, but Howell is legitimately good in any draft. His physical tools are very good and he seems to have the mental makeup that makes me feel confident in taking him this high.

12. Minnesota Vikings – Sauce Gardner

There are a lot of question marks surrounding the Vikings secondary. Adding a talented young corner like Gardner would totally change the outlook of this group, both in the short term and long run.

13. Cleveland Browns – Garrett Wilson

The Browns are very good in so many aspects of their roster. The one thing they really have to do is improve their passing attack. After letting Odell Beckham Jr go last year getting a potential number one receiver like Wilson should be a high priority.

14. Baltimore Ravens – David Ojabo

The Ravens ranked in the bottom ten in sacks last year. Ojabo has excellent physical gifts that make him a high upside outside linebacker and pass rusher. Plus John Harbaugh will get some insight from his brother Jim Harbaugh and new Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald who both coached Ojabo at Michigan.

15. Philadelphia Eagles – Andrew Booth

Darius Slay is getting older and the Eagles need to think about their long term future in the secondary. Booth is one of the best players in the draft and a fantastic value here.

16. Philadelphia Eagles – Jermaine Johnson

Johnson was the big winner at the Senior Bowl. He’s a strong physical defensive end who can play with his hand in the dirt. This is a little early for him based off my board, but good edge rushers are hard to find.

17. Los Angeles Chargers – Kenyon Green

The Chargers finally started to figure out their offensive line last year by drafting Rashawn Slatter. They continue to build on that here with Green and protect star quarterback Justin Herbert.

18. New Orleans Saints – Jameson Williams

Even with Michael Thomas, who has barely played the last two years, the Saints have one of the worst receiver groups in the NFL. Williams is blazing fast with the polish and surprising physicality that project him as a true number one wide receiver.

19. Philadelphia Eagles – Tyler Linderbaum

Jason Kelce is getting older and the Eagles have needs on the interior of their offensive line. Linderbaum is one of the best players in the draft and would be drafted much higher if picks were made on just play on the field.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers – Malik Willis

Ben Rothlisberger has retired and the Steelers need a quarterback. Mason Rudolph would make a nice bridge as Pittsburgh Willis who is the highest upside quarterback in the draft.

21. New England Patriots – Devin Lloyd

Lloyd just feels like a Patriots kind of guy. He’s a talented and versatile linebacker who can do a bit of everything. Bill Belichick has always been a defensive guy first and this would go a long way in continuing to build that group.

22. Las Vegas Raiders – Jordan Davis

The Raiders are a bit of an enigma. However, they do have a pair of good pass rusher on the edge. Adding Davis to the interior would only build on that strength as Las Vegas looks to return to the playoffs next season.

23. Arizona Cardinals – Kaiir Elam

This is a deep and talented class of corners. Getting a player like Elam at this point is great value for the Cardinals who need to continue building a defense that is starting to acquire a good bit of talent.

24. Dallas Cowboys – Daxton Hill

After drafting one of the most versatile and dynamic front seven players in recent memory in last year’s draft, the Cowboys now need to add to the secondary. With both starting safeties set to become free agents, Hill would make a great addition as a guy who can do some of everything.

25. Buffalo Bills – Trent McDuffie

The Bills offense feels unstoppable at times. Now the defense needs to take a step forward and limit opposing teams enough for Josh Allen to out score them. With one foundational corner in place, the Bills could use an upgrade opposite Tre’Davious White.

26. Tennessee Titans – Nakobe Dean

The Titans have been fortunate in recent years to have great players slide to them. Dean would be no exception in this case. He’s undersize, but fast, tough and extremely smart. All the makings of a franchise changing player.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Travis Jones

The Bucs could be losing a pair of starting defensive linemen this offseason. Jones is very powerful with great size. The combination of him and Vita Vea will keep the Bucs as one of the best run defenses in the NFL.

28. Green Bay Packers – Trevor Penning

The future is unclear for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. A great run blocking tackle with nastiness and movement skills can improve the running game and protect Rodgers; a win-win.

29. Miami Dolphins – Raimann Bernhard

Bernhard was playing tight just a few years ago and he still moves like it. Mike McDaniel hopes to get his version of longtime San Francisco tackle Joe Staley.

30. Kansas City Chiefs – Chris Olave

If elite strengths win championships then adding another playmaker to this offense could be what gets the Chiefs back to the Super Bowl. Olave is very fast and very smooth with potential to be a very good route runner.

31. Cincinnati Bengals – Zion Johnson

Johnson is a rock solid interior offensive line prospect who should be an above average starter in the NFL. He showed off his talent and versatility at the Senior Bowl and left a lot of people very impressed.

32. Detroit Lions – Drake London

London is a big bodied receiver who will be a playmaker in the red zone. He’s great value at this point and could prove to be the best wide receiver in the draft.

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