It’s been long enough. I put off projecting a preseason mock draft and haven’t focused enough to get one done until now. After two months of college football and six weeks of the NFL, there is enough baseline info on both prospects and team needs to concoct a two-round mock draft that goes beyond being a drunk monkey with a blowdart and writing down the results.

The draft order is current through the Sunday outcomes of Week 6 as determined by Tankathon. These projections include underclassmen who might not declare, and it’s designed to give an idea of how players project right now. So much happens with teams that the player/team fits are the best guess of how things might look in April. The Texans fired their VP of football ops and major draft influencer, Jack Easterby, about 30 minutes before I sat down to write this. The Panthers, the team currently sitting at No. 1 overall, have an interim head coach and dealt RB Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers shortly before I submitted this, resulting in a quick late edit.


  1. Panthers: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State. Any good rebuild starts with a new franchise QB, and Stroud is as good of a prospect as any of the recent No. 1 overall QBs with his precise aggression.

  2. Raiders: Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama. Not necessarily the Raiders’ most pressing need, but sometimes obvious talent trumps drafting for need. Anderson is that kind of talent indeed.

  3. Lions: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia. Detroit’s league-worst defense gets the difference-maker in the middle it sorely lacks. It says here Jared Goff is the Lions QB in 2023 no matter what happens the rest of the year and I can’t envision them spending such a valuable pick on someone who wouldn’t help next season.

  4. Texans: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky. Levis has the size, arm and improvisational skills that will appeal to a team in need of spark both offensively and to a largely unenthused fan base.

  5. Texans (from Browns): Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson. What do teams with multiple top-10 picks do? Grab a QB and someone who can attack the opposing QB. Murphy does that very well and can help lead a youthful renaissance on the Houston defense.

  6. Eagles (from Saints): Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia. Tough to find a place where the NFL’s only remaining unbeaten team needs a top-10 pick. Smith is known for his pass rushing but he offers enough versatility to also play some off-ball backer in the way the Cowboys use Micah Parsons.

  7. Steelers: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina. I see Smith making a similar surge up draft boards to what Sauce Gardner did a year ago. The Steelers would be fortunate to retool the defense with Smith’s exceptional ball skills and toughness.

  8. Cardinals: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech. It’s very difficult to watch the powerful, long-limbed Wilson and not see a potential Calais Campbell-type of DL presence. That’s a player the Cardinals can surely use on their defense.

  9. Jaguars: Quentin Johnson, WR, TCU. Johnson is the rare big receiver (he’s 6-4/215) who can reliably create separation on his own, and he’s proving to be a big-play machine is TCU’s new-look offense. His skills should translate nicely to help Trevor Lawrence in Jacksonville.

  10. Bears: Jordan Addison, WR, USC. What do you get the most boring, staid offense in the league? How about a proven playmaker with scheme-transcendent skills and the ability to get open at any level of the defense.

  11. Commanders: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama. Projecting where Young comes off the board is difficult. His brains and arm say potential No. 1 overall, but his slightly-built, undersized body is likely to create many interesting conversations in NFL draft rooms. Washington almost has to take that chance in this situation.

  12. Seahawks (from Broncos): Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson. Simpson fits nicely into the versatile, 3-down LB role that teams covet. He can help the Seahawks as a pass rusher and play-in-space run defender.

  13. Falcons: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson. Physical, technically-sound interior presence who plays with attitude and urgency. Put that next to Grady Jarrett and the Falcons’ up-the-gut defense gets a lot more formidable.

  14. Seahawks: Cam Ward, QB, Washington State. Ward is the ultimate wild card, an athletically blessed and highly prolific transfer from Incarnate Word. He could soar up draft board based on attributes and potential. Sounds very much like a Seahawks kind of pick, and they happen to need a long-term QB with journeyman Geno Smith a pending free agent.

  15. Bengals: Olumuyiwa Fashanu, OT, Penn State. Fashanu is both a mouthful and a handful for opposing pass rushers. He’s got advanced hands for such a precocious player and has proven himself more than worthy against top competition so far. The Bengals continue to pour resources into protecting Joe Burrow out of necessity.

  16. Patriots: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State. I know, I know; the Pats don’t take WRs in the first round. “JSN” would make for a worthy exception to help build the new-fangled passing offense into something potentially special.

  17. The Dolphins forfeited this pick for tampering with Tom Brady

  18. Packers: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame. It’s a down year for the Irish, but Mayer continues to show difference-making ability. He’s a do-it-all modern TE who can help Aaron Rodgers right away.

  19. Dolphins (from 49ers): Jaelyn Duncan, OT, Maryland. Duncan is a giant left tackle who can absorb power rushers like bugs on a windshield. His ability to get out into space in the run game has elevated his draft stock. Not the Dolphins biggest need but he certainly helps bolster the offense.

  20. Buccaneers: Antonio Johnson, S, Texas A&M. Versatile safety prospect with size, range and power. About the only thing Johnson lacks is playmaking pelts on the wall. His tackling ability and short-are coverage skills are a nice fit in Tampa Bay…or anywhere.

  21. Ravens: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State. Porter thrives as a press-man corner who can also impact the perimeter run game. Being able to play outside on an island is something the Ravens' blitz-heavy D needs, and Porter has the mindset and lockdown potential to do just that.

  22. Lions (from Rams): Brian Branch, S, Alabama. Branch is the latest Bama safety playing the Minkah Fitzpatrick role, a hybrid S/CB playmaking spot that requires exceptional athleticism and quick reactions. He’s not as sharp in man coverage (yet) but has shown the ability to suffocate the ball in a hurry.

  23. Colts: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida. Enough of the end-of-career veteran careening at QB. The Colts bite the bullet with the sky-high physical potential in Richardson and hope the uneven results to this point keep improving for the promising Gator.

  24. Chargers: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas. Robinson is a very high-level RB prospect, but the oversaturated supply of RBs in both this draft class and free agency makes projecting where the dynamic Longhorn comes off the board a real conundrum. He’d look fantastic sharing the backfield with Austin Ekeler and helping the Chargers maximize Justin Herbert.

  25. Titans: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia. True story: my abridged game notes of watching Jones vs. Oregon simply said “ass-kicker”. The long-term tackle situation in Nashville is dicey with fellow ass-kicker Taylor Lewan coming off a major injury and uncertainty on the right side.

  26. Jets: Paris Johnson, OL, Ohio State. Johnson can play either OT or OG, an appealing prospect for a Jets line that has some in-house long-term potential at OT but also potential for a better solution at either LT or RG.

  27. Cowboys: Jordan Battle, S, Alabama. Battle plays with great speed and power, though not always the best positional discipline. For a Cowboys defense in need of stability and stoutness at safety, Battle is a worthy value pick in this range.

  28. Giants: Henry To’o To’o, LB, Alabama. The swift To’o To’o lacks size but flies to the point of attack and rarely gets caught in the wrong place. He can solidify a young Giants defense that has the talented DL to protect him up front.

  29. Chiefs: Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU. High risk-reward talent with an outstanding ceiling but a weirdly low floor. Andy Reid’s offense can be the right environ for the big playmaker to thrive.

  30. Vikings: Derick Hall, EDGE, Auburn. Hall has been inconsistently awesome when I’ve watched Auburn. His good tape says top-20 pick; his lesser, unrefined technical tape says 35-50 overall. We’ll slot him in between to a team that can use a twitchy pass rusher with growth potential.

  31. Bills: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern. What do you give to the NFL’s most promising roster? How about the best value pick at OL left on the board? Skoronski could go in the top 12.

  32. Eagles: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia. Ringo has proven to be a shutdown CB with athleticism to spare. But he’s got to clean up his overaggressive nature and risk-taking at the next level, somehow without losing his edge. Sounds exactly like current Eagles standout Darius Slay as a prospect.

2nd Round

  1. Panthers: Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame
  2. Lions: Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State
  3. Raiders: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
  4. Texans: Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon
  5. Saints: Gervon Dexter, DT, Florida
  6. Steelers: Andrew Vorhees, IOL, USC
  7. Cardinals: Matthew Bergeron, OT, Syracuse
  8. Jaguars: Tui Tuipulotu, DT, USC
  9. Bears: Blake Freeland, OT, BYU
  10. Commanders: Clark Phillips, CB, Utah
  11. Browns: JK Skinner, S, Boise State
  12. Seahawks (from Broncos): Felix Anudike-Uzomah, EDGE, Kansas State
  13. Seahawks: John Michael Schmitz, IOL, Minnesota
  14. 46. Bengals: Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State
  15. Patriots: Garrett Williams, CB, Syracuse
  16. Dolphins: B.J. Ojulari, EDGE, LSU
  17. Packers: Darnell Wright, OL, Tennessee
  18. Falcons: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
  19. Buccaneers: Andre Carter, OLB, Army
  20. Ravens: Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina
  21. Rams: Sean Tucker, RB, Syracuse
  22. Panthers (from 49ers): Jahymr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
  23. Colts: Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, CB, TCU
  24. Chargers: Brandon Joseph, S, Notre Dame
  25. Titans: Kyu Blu Kelly, CB, Stanford
  26. Cowboys: O’Cyrus Torrance, IOL, Florida
  27. Jets: Cameron Latu, TE, Alabama
  28. Giants: Mazi Smith, DL, Michigan
  29. Chiefs: Cooper Beebe, OL, Kansas State
  30. Vikings: Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
  31. Bills: Siaki Ika, DT, Baylor
  32. Eagles: Rashee Rice, WR, SMU

Bonus 3rd round pick (No. 67) for my Lions friends: Jared Hall, QB, BYU