It is NFL Draft season.
With the Super Bowl over and the NFL champion crowned, the league’s attention moves to April’s draft and the months of speculation ahead of it. The scouting combine takes place in the first week of March, the draft itself will be held on the weekend of April 27-29 in Kansas City, Missouri, and there will be plenty of discussion between now and then.
For now, here is our first post-Super Bowl crack at the first round of this year’s NFL Draft:
1. Indianapolis Colts (via trade with Chicago Bears): Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
The Colts trade up in hopes of filling the hole behind center that’s been unsettled since Andrew Luck retired nearly a decade ago. The franchise that has made plenty of questionable decisions of late goes with the polarizing choice in Levis, an interesting prospect who is a bit of a risk considering the other options at the position.
2. Houston Texans: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
The Buckeyes star nearly carried his team to an improbable win over eventual national champion Georgia in the national semifinals. Having that as his final college game will be enough to carry him through any potential sub-par performances on his Pro Day or at the combine and will convince the Texans to put their future hopes on him.
3. Arizona Cardinals: Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama
The Cardinals are set behind center with Kyler Murray, so they bolster their defense with the best player on that end of the ball during the past two seasons of college football.
4. Chicago Bears (via trade with Indianapolis Colts): Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
Likewise, the Bears have their quarterback in Justin Fields, so they take the best player remaining in the draft. Carter is arguably the best prospect in the pool regardless of position, so Chicago gets a steal here.
5. Seattle Seahawks (via Denver Broncos): Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
The Seahawks need to upgrade their defense desperately, so they take the best defensive player at their disposal.
6. Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Rams): Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
Detroit needs upgrades throughout its defense, so it takes the best cornerback in the Big Ten.
7. Las Vegas Raiders: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Young’s lack of size (6-foot on the dot) will dock him in the quarterback pecking order, but the Raiders will take a chance and let him fill in a Derek-Carr-sized hole in their line-up.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Myles Murphy, DL, Clemson
Getting to opposing quarterbacks has been an issue for Atlanta, so they snag a strong body on the defensive line that could create some pressure.
9. Carolina Panthers: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold are not franchise quarterbacks. That has been proven time and again. So the Panthers go with the young signal-caller who is oozing with potential.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (via New Orleans Saints): Jordan Addison, WR, USC.
The Birds are stacked with talent across the board, so they make a pick that they can develop for the long haul.
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11. Tennessee Titans: Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern
12. Houston Texans (via Cleveland Browns): Paris Johnson Jr., OL, Ohio State.
13. New York Jets: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia.
As the Jets learned this season, one can never have too much depth along the offensive line.
14. New England Patriots: Quentin Johnston, TCU, WR.
15. Green Bay Packers: Joey Porter, CB, Penn State
16. Washington Commanders: Brian Branch, DB, Alabama
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
18. Detroit Lions: Nolan Smith, OLB, Georgia
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
20. Seattle Seahawks: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
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21. Miami Dolphins (forfeited)
22. Los Angeles Chargers: Lukas Van Ness, DE, Iowa.
23. Baltimore Ravens: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
24. Minnesota Vikings: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
25. Jacksonville Jaguars: Henry To’o’To’o, LB, Alabama.
26. New York Giants: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
The Giants need to get Daniel Jones as many weapons as possible to fix a putrid passing attack, and a player with a chance to be the next Rob Gronkowski is a safe bet.
27. Dallas Cowboys: Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma.
28. Buffalo Bills: Zach Evans, RB, Ole Miss.
29. Cincinnati Bengals: Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State.
30. New Orleans Saints (via San Francisco 49ers): Derick Hall, DE, Auburn
31. Philadelphia Eagles: Keion White, DE, Georgia Tech
32. Kansas City Chiefs: BJ Ojulari, EDGE, LSU.
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Brian Fonseca may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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