That’s right. It’s already here. The draft was just a few days ago, but it’s never too early to start looking ahead. Some teams made splash moves this offseason, while others worked silently in the shadows. It’s anyone’s game this season, and we could see lower-ranked teams come into their own during the upcoming season. We could also see playoff teams and division winners fall out of contention. Anything can happen in PML, and there is not a more hopeful time than during the offseason. Teams are looking to make a name for themselves, redeem themselves, or reload.
*Draft order used will be the same as 2021 but without trades
With the first overall pick, the Carolina Panthers select:
Derek Stingley, CB, LSU
The Panthers made headlines when they drafted Justin Fields number one overall this year, and if he is as good as they hope he will be, there is no chance they pick in the same slot two years in a row. Carolina typically has an identity centered around lockdown defense and a strong running game, but they fell away from their defensive identity last year, ranking 31st in points allowed and 24th in yards. The defensive unit was hampered by poor secondary play, which saw them finish 26th in PML in passing yards allowed. If they want to return to their glory days, they need to strengthen their passing defense and Derek Stingley is just the man to help them get back on track.
Joining fellow star athlete and defensive back from LSU, Donte Jackson, Derek Stingley will step in and be a day one starter. That duo of corners would be one of the scariest in the league, as they both have the athleticism to shadow any receiver and are both more athletic than the majority of receivers in the league. Both are better at man coverage, but their insane athleticism allows them to be great in zone coverage as well. If Carolina Head Coach JT has a chance to get a player like Stingley next year, expect him to jump on that opportunity.
With the second overall pick, the Los Angeles Rams select:
Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
Jared Goff is not the guy in Los Angeles. Yes, they paid him big money, but he has proven he is not capable of being the Rams’ franchise quarterback. Goff led the team to the 32nd ranked offense in terms of points scored per game, 32nd in yards per game, and 31st in passing yards per game. The defense did their part for the Rams last season, finishing in the top half of the league in every category except for points per game. Despite the solid defensive play, the Rams were only able to notch one win last year, making it clear that the offense needs to step up if they want to have a chance to contend in the NFC West. Goff is going to have a high cap hit in the next few years, but investing at quarterback is well worth the lack of cap space. Maybe Los Angeles could even find a trade partner to take his contract from them, a-la Brock Osweiler being traded from the Texans.
Howell is an athletic gunslinger who can do a little bit of everything the Rams would ask of him. Stepping into an offense with guys like Kyle Pitts and Cam Akers, along with budding star Tutu Atwell, the former Tarheel passer would have plenty of weapons around him. The Rams may need to make some schematic changes on offense, but on paper this offense has potential. Sam Howell has the athleticism to make some plays in the run game as well as the ability to extend plays and keep them alive with his leg. With great arm talent, he is also capable of hitting a receiver just about anywhere on the field he needs to. This pick would be hard to make due to the financial investments they have already put into the quarterback position but would be well worth it long-term.
With the 3rd overall pick, the Cincinnati Bengals select:
Logan Brown, OL, Wisconsin
In the 2021 draft, Cincinnati invested in another electrifying offensive weapon for Heisman Winner Joe Burrow in Jaylen Waddle. That pick helps give them a multitude of options when calling offensive plays, but their success could be held back by poor offensive line play. They had a chance to draft one of the best offensive line prospects in recent memory (Penei Sewell) but passed on him for the dynamic Waddle. Investing in a strong blocker upfront would certainly pay dividends for this unique Bengals offensive attack. They added some veteran offensive linemen this offseason but will need a long-term solution and Brown would be just that.
The former five star recruit boasts a 6 foot 6 frame, ideal for offensive line prospects. A powerful blocker, Brown’s strength lies in his ability to create rushing lanes for the running back, which would fit in nicely given the Bengals strong rushing attack lead by Joe Mixon.
With the 4th overall pick, the Denver Broncos select:
Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Getting their second Oregon Duck in the top five in two years, the Broncos have to realize that Von Miller will not be around forever. Stepping into a more diverse role this season, Thibodeaux is taking on more responsibility as a player, covering running backs and tight ends in an effort to expand his skillset for the next level. The Broncos seem to have always had strong edge rushers in recent memory, and the future duo of Bradley Chubb and Kayvon Thibodeaux would be a very strong one moving forward. The opportunity to work with a future Hall of Famer in Von Miller would be huge for the young edge rusher in his first few seasons in PML.
Continuing the Oregon to Denver pipeline, the Broncos would be ecstatic to pick an elite edge rusher at number four overall. Their roster still has some holes and I could potentially seeing this team drafting a quarterback if they decide they are not satisfied with Drew Lock’s play.
With the 5th overall pick, the Green Bay Packers select:
Christian Harris, LB, Alabama
Bolstering their defense, the Packers draft yet another star linebacker from Alabama. Lacking a true MIKE linebacker, this pick helps Green Bay in their efforts to turn around the direction this team is currently heading in. Even though the current coaching staff for Green Bay has voiced their displeasure with their quarterback room, I think they stick with Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love. They have good options under center, and it would be a waste to not build the rest of this roster up when they have the opportunity to.
Harris is a strong linebacker who came in and started for the Tide as a true freshman. He typically plays as a depth linebacker, but he has the ability to rush the passer when his number is called. Able to run from sideline to sideline, he would give this Packers defense a much needed presence in the middle of the field. Life would be easy for him playing behind a dominant defensive line and with some great players in the secondary behind him.
With the 6th overall pick, the Kansas City Chiefs select:
Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
In 2021, the Chiefs drafted a great edge rusher in Gregory Rousseau, but still need to find someone to replace Frank Clark and his enormous contract. Nolan Smith is an extremely versatile edge rusher who is capable of playing linebacker in space and covering tight ends and running backs. He excels rushing the passer off of the edge of the defense but has the ability to play almost anywhere in any scheme. This Chiefs team was very disappointing, picking in the top six just one year after winning the Super Bowl. Maybe it was just an off-year, but one thing is certain: something has to change if the Chiefs want to get back to their winning ways and compete in the AFC West. Their defense isn’t the best, so they should continue to build it as much as possible and let Patrick Mahomes run the show. They could improve any position group on defense, but with this pick they opt to take the dynamic linebacker out of Georgia.
With the 7th overall pick, the Arizona Cardinals select:
Evan Neal, OL, Alabama
The Cardinals have a big need on the offensive line that they weren’t able to address in this most recent draft the way they would have liked. Neal is a very strong and athletic blocker who can play any spot he needs to on the line. This team likes to run the ball, but they lack the strength up front to do it as efficiently as they would like. Neal is a mauler in the running game and is quick enough on his feet to be an underrated pass blocker. With some dynamic receiving options and one of the most electric quarterbacks in the game, the offensive line should be a focal point every offseason until they are confident in their unit. Arizona is within grasp of contending for the NFC West title, and need to make just a few changes on their team to do so.
With the 8th overall pick, the New Orleans Saints select:
George Pickens, WR, Georgia
Outside of Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara, the Saints lack reliable receiving weapons for their new quarterback, Trey Lance. Pickens is an athletic receiver with great catching ability who would fit in well in the New Orleans offense. The former Bulldog receiver reminds me of a more athletic Dez Bryant as a player, and though he does not have elite speed, he is a very good wideout who would help open up the passing game for this offense. PML doesn’t know what to expect from the new Saints coaching staff, but a receiver like Pickens would boost the passing attack of any team in the league.
With the 9th overall pick, the Jacksonville Jaguars select:
Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
With this pick, the Jaguars continue to build a scary offense behind offensively-minded Head Coach ChefScoopa. Wilson is one of the most well-rounded receivers in this class, with elite route running and hands, as well as great run after the catch ability. This offense already has guys like DJ Chark, Travis Etienne, and Laviska Shenault, but this pick would make this team absolutely lethal. The Jaguars have shown promise and should improve year after year. As long as their defense can play at the same level as their offense, this team could turn into an AFC South contender over time.
With the 10th overall pick, the Philadelphia Eagles select:
The second buckeye to come off the board in as many picks, the Eagles get their eventual replacement for Brandon Graham. Harrison is a powerful edge rusher with strong run-stopping abilities. Philadelphia’s defense was top ten against the pass, but bottom three against the run. This pick would not only help them compound their strength through the air, it would also help them immensely against the run. They drafted another blue-chip player in Dylan Moses last year, and this pick would help them continue their efforts to build this defense.
With the 11th overall pick, the San Francisco 49ers select:
Tyler Shough, QB, Oregon
With a pick similar to the one the Rams made, the 49ers draft a quarterback despite Jimmy Garoppolo and his contract. This pick may be a bit of a reach as of now, but Shough has all of the traits a team looks for: arm strength, athleticism, and accuracy. He would be a great fit for this team who has a coach known for developing quarterbacks. Head Coach Nefarious made headlines last year with his loyalty to developing Kyle Allen, and he could certainly do the same with Shough.
With the 12th overall pick, the Buffalo Bills select:
Wanya Morris, OL, Tennessee
The Bills are coming off an underwhelming season that saw them finish last in the AFC East, and need to bring in new talent that will help them compete. Their offensive line isn’t bad by any means but could use some extra strength and Morris would bring just that. After bringing in Ja’Marr Chase, this offense looks to be scary. Building a strong offensive line is vital to any team’s success on offense, and the Bills know that. Josh Allen is a very promising player, and they need to continue to build this roster around his talent.
With the 13th overall pick, the New York Jets select:
Jayden Daniels, QB, Arizona State
It’s time to move on from Sam Darnold. Daniels has some good arm talent and athleticism and would hopefully provide new life for this sputtering Jets offense in need of new talent. The Jets have lacked offensive talent for a while, but have drafted some great players in the past two drafts with Mekhi Becton and Devonta Smith. Paired with Smith, Daniels will have a number one receiver for this New York offense that wants to improve with whoever their new coach may be.
With the 14th overall pick, the Pittsburgh Steelers select:
Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma
Rattler is a dynamic passer with some concerns but would be a great fit in this Pittsburgh that is run-centric. Yes, the team traded for Gardner Minshew, but it never hurts to draft a better option under center. This offense runs the ball as much as anyone, but they are going to need to have a great quarterback if they want to forget the blunders of last season and win the AFC North this year. Too often teams were able to key in on their run game and force mistakes out of Big Ben. With Rattler, they would be much less predictable as an offense and he would bring a new level of athleticism and talent to the backfield.
With the 15th overall pick, the Las Vegas Raiders select:
Kedon Slovis, QB, USC
The third straight quarterback to be selected, the Raiders take the quarterback from SC and bring him to Vegas to take over for Derek Carr. Carr has been good for the Raiders, but just turned 30 and will be a bit expensive to keep around. It makes sense to bring in a fresh passer to take advantage of all of the speed this offense has. Slovis is a talented passer who has had his ups and downs, but playing with elite speed in Rondale Moore, Henry Ruggs, and Darren Waller is a recipe for success for any quarterback.