You ready to dream big?
After compiling my latest two-round mock draft this past Monday, I was struck with some of the fits that excited me most (Green Bay, New Orleans — I’m talking to you). I wanted to write a post solely dedicated to some ideal fits: the snug fit of scheme and culture with prospect skills, weaknesses, and temperament.
Think of what Baker Mayfield’s attitude means to the Cleveland franchise; how Alvin Kamara’s pass-catching prowess was built for Sean Payton’s offense in New Orleans; the mold at CB that Seattle used to get production out of later selections like Richard Sherman, Jeremy Lane, and Shaquill Griffin.
Needs were kept in mind for these ideal fits, as these would be potential Round 1 selections — but the focus here was on matching the player with the team. There are a lot of moving pieces in terms of draft order and prospect valuation, so none of these picks are too drastic of reaches to possibly consider.
These are the dream Round 1 fits for the NFC teams. If you’re looking for AFC, that’s over here.
Dallas Cowboys – Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford
Dallas clearly needs a blue-chip option at tight end — and after dipping into the Stanford well last year with Dalton Schultz, they come back for seconds. I like Smith for Dallas because he offers great downfield ability with body control and strong hands in the seam. The Cowboys need more chunk plays through the air.
Philadelphia Eagles – Byron Murphy III, CB, Washington
Just as we have the Cowboys going back to Stanford for a TE pick, Philadelphia goes back to the defensive backfield of Washington for a starting corner. Like Sidney Jones before him, Murphy is a bit smaller, but he profiles as a fantastic fit in the off Cover 3 alignment that Jim Schwartz deploys. Quick, instinctive, and productive — Philly’s really struggling to generate INTs this year — Murphy’s fresh off of a clutch 2 INT game against Utah in last night’s Pac-12 championship.
New York Giants – Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
Sure, the Giants should select an early QB — but the offense would likely have to change a fair bit for both Justin Herbert and Dwayne Haskins. Instead, let’s grab a blue-chip talent who can play multiple spots on an OL that needs help everywhere, to protect whoever ends up under center. No matter where the Giants draft, it wouldn’t be too high for Williams.
Washington Redskins – Chris Lindstrom, iOL, Boston College
It’s easy to forget in the success, and then attrition of Washington’s season, that this team was going to feed rookie RB Derrius Guice. Their OL was largely dominant when they were healthy, but left guard could use a boost over Shaun Lauvao, the starter for the season opener. Lindstrom is a great culture fit with his physicality and alpha attitude, serving as a foil to elite RG Brandon Scherff.
Minnesota Vikings – JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford
For as long as John DeFilippo is coordinating the offense in Minnesota — which may not be too long — they’re going to continue to throw the ball all over the field. They’d love to see Laquon Treadwell develop into something, especially in the red zone — they are 24th in TD percentage there. Arcega-Whiteside is an elite red zone player with above-the-rim ability who also offers good route running for a 220+ pounder.
Chicago Bears – Dalton Risner, OT, Kansas State
As you’d hope for a team without a first- and second-round selection, the Bears don’t have a ton of big time needs. RT Bobby Massie has played nicely for them this season, but they are strapped for cash and may not be able to retain him. Risner represents a great option to replace Massie, and even if Massie remains, Risner has the versatility to play all across the offensive line.
Green Bay Packers – Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
This was one of the selections I made in my most recent mock draft, and I love it enough that I made it twice. Allen is one of the better coverage EDGEs in this draft class, and he has the play strength to move all across the line (and linebacker positions) and confound protections. He offers an athletic profile that the Packers desperately need on the outside.
Detroit Lions – Zach Allen, EDGE, Boston College
If Allen is going to go first round, a team like Detroit makes a lot of sense. They mix 4- and 3-man fronts a ton under Matt Patricia, and Allen’s size and success rushing the inside track makes him a desirable piece to play multiple spots. The Lions should also look into more speed off the edge, but Allen has the versatility they could really maximize on.
Seattle Seahawks – Juan Thornhill, SAF, Virginia
It’s a curious game, to figure out what exactly Seattle is going to look like on the defensive backfield. Is Tedric Thompson the FS of the future as Earl Thomas is almost undoubtedly out the door? Do they feel comfortable with Tre Flowers as a starting corner? Do they retain nickel corner Neiko Thorpe? I like Thornhill’s CB/S versatility for their ambiguous secondary, and his length and ball skills feel very Seattle-y.
San Francisco 49ers – Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
Speaking of length and ball skills that feel Seattle-y, the Niners’ defense — which follows a similar mold — must look for someone to push Ahkello Witherspoon in his starting role. Enter Hall, a wide receiver convert who drew eyes this season with his production — his 20 passes defensed leads all of college football. He fits that “press Cover 3” mold. (Don’t worry Niners fans: Bosa also fits.)
Arizona Cardinals – D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
Boy oh boy is Arizona thirsting for a truly dominant X receiver. Larry Fitzgerald, at this point in his career, simply doesn’t garner a ton of targets; last year’s 3rd rounder Christian Kirk is a slot guy; Chad Williams is…also on the roster. Metcalf rocks the house with his catch radius, separation ability, and alpha mindset in the red zone. With a sniper like Josh Rosen to hit small windows at the helm, Metcalf’s catch radius will be maximized, as well as his YAC ability.
Los Angeles Rams – Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
I entertained corner (DeAndre Baker?) here, but I’m gonna safely assume Dante Fowler isn’t a knockout solution at EDGE and bring Burns in instead. Burns won’t hold up great against the run at his size (sub 240 pounds) once he jumps to NFL play, but Wade Phillips has shown in his time coordinating the Rams’ defense that he’s willing to get beat by the run if it makes him stronger against the pass. Burns has that sickly bend that Phillips loves as well.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida
Polite, who grew up on the opposite coast in Daytona Beach, stays in state and offers some desperately needed juice to the Tampa Bay pass rush. Vinny Curry hasn’t been what the Bucs hoped when they signed him from Philadelphia, but it’s clear they value explosiveness in their EDGEs given who’s in the building. Polite offers a wicked first step, and also has the size (260 pounds) to fit in with the EDGE prototype in Tampa.
Carolina Panthers – Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
The Panthers look to have themselves a hit in second-round CB Donte Jackson, Williams’ teammate from last season. Williams currently plays a lot of press with LSU, but I think he’s better suited with his eyes in the backfield — he’ll get that alignment a ton with Carolina. His size and athletic profile will likely be better than Jackson’s coming out of LSU as well, and will take the starting spot from up-and-down James Bradberry.
New Orleans Saints – A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
Another dream fit, Brown is a odd mold at wide receiver and I trust Sean Payton to get the most out of him. Brown, a detailed route runner with the size to win in tight space in the middle of the field, profiles as a great runner of the slot option routes that New Orleans loves to use. Brown didn’t spend a ton of time on the outside for the Rebels, but he can grow into that role with Michael Thomas and Tre’Quan Smith and Cameron Meredith all offering inside/outside versatility.
Atlanta Falcons – Quinnen Williams, iDL, Alabama
Dream scenario for the Falcons here, who should consider employing the honorable strategy: #QuitWinninForQuinnen. In all seriousness, Atlanta could use an upgrade beside Grady Jarrett, their undersized under tackle — and Williams has insane pass-rush ability as a nose tackle for the Crimson Tide. With the strength to hold up at the point of attack, he’ll also keep Atlanta’s undersized ‘backers clean.