NFL Simulation Draft features surprise Raiders move

It’s that time of year again. The mock draft season is upon us.

This year, that means a little more locally. Even though the Raiders don’t have a first-round pick after trading theirs to the Packers as part of the deal for wide receiver Davante Adams, the NFL Draft will take place in Las Vegas for the first time in the season. April 28 to 30.

Here’s our first attempt at predicting what might happen in the first round. Oh, and what about the Raiders having no first-round picks?

On a dizzying draft day, we expect the Raiders to send star Darren Waller to the needy Titans to get back in the first round and nab a linebacker who could lead the defense for years. Waller changed agents last season and has two years left on his contract. But he earned a raise the Raiders might not be able to afford. It would be a shock, but this offseason has been full of it.

Be sure to read until the end.

1) Jacksonville Jaguars

Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan — The Jaguars have a lot of needs, but are taking the opportunity to pair the best player in the draft with Josh Allen to form one of the best young passer duos in the league.

2) Trade: New York Giants

Trayvon Walker, Edge, Ga. — The Giants have plenty of draft capital and are taking advantage of it, paying a small price to move up three spots and nab one of the fastest on the board. Detroit is more than willing to trade the two spots, scooping up a few more lower-round picks with the belief that they can still get their guy at No. 5.

3) Houston Texans

Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame — Numbers can lie. The tape does not work. Hamilton may be falling for some analysts after talking about the pro day numbers, but the Texans need good players all over the court and Hamilton is definitely that. He has the ability to cover the mistakes of the players in front of him and be the kind of leader the Texans can build themselves around.

4) New York Jets

Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati — Cornerbacks the size of Gardner (6-3, 190) just don’t move like him. Of course, the current social media obsession is that Gardner hasn’t allowed a touchdown in his college career. But he’s also a great plan and a potential superstar for a team that needs him.

5) Detroit Lions

Malik Willis, QB, Freedom

The Lions not only get a potential franchise quarterback who could be a marketing superstar, but they trade to do it. If that’s the direction they want to go, there’s not much risk as long as they stay ahead of the Panthers, who need a quarterback.

6) Carolina Panthers

Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh — That could turn out to be a real reach, but the Panthers have a need in that position and it’s their only top-100 pick. There are also reports that owner David Tepper went all-in on Pickett and told the front office to make the pick.

7) New York Giants

(from the Chicago Bears)

Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State –– The Giants add the best offensive tackle in the draft after selecting an elite rusher as they attempt to build from the line of scrimmage. Ekwonu is by all accounts an excellent locker room guy who could be a star if he fully exploits his huge raw potential.

8) Atlanta Falcons

Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State — The Falcons are in dire need of a playmaker receiver on the outside to partner tight end Kyle Pitts. Although there is some disagreement over who is the best receiver available in this draft, Wilson is a smart bet.

9) Seattle Seahawks

(from the Denver Broncos)

Evan Neal, OT, Alabama — Neal’s downfall in Seattle could be a dream scenario for the Seahawks as they enter a rebuild. It’s kind of ironic that the Seahawks can finally start building an offensive line with the pick they acquired for QB Russell Wilson.

10) New York Jets

(Seattle Seahawks)

Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Ore. — The Jets are deciding to stop the slide to make a player once considered a favorite the No. 1 overall pick. That’s great value for a player who would almost certainly go a lot sooner if it weren’t for the lingering questions about his love of the game.

11) Washington Commanders

Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama — A high-risk, high-reward pick for a team that already has weapons and can give Williams time to recover. He says he should be in full gear in training camp because of the torn ACL he suffered in the national championship game.

12) Minnesota Vikings

Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU — He might be one of the more controversial picks. Stingley followed an incredible freshman season with two injury-plagued and inconsistent years. It could be an ideal landing spot with his former defensive coordinator Daronte Jones now coaching the Vikings defensive backs.

13) Houston Texans

(from Cleveland Browns)

Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State — The Texans just need to get the best player available with each of their picks. They need an infusion of talent in almost every position. The best player available here also happens to play in a prime position.

14) Baltimore Ravens

Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia – The rare combine practice warrior who also happens to be a superstar player on the court. Davis dazzled in drills at Indianapolis and could be the kind of massive defensive tackle the Ravens love to build around the line of scrimmage.

15) Philadelphia Eagles

(from the Miami Dolphins)

Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah — The Eagles have three of the next five picks and are in absolute control in the middle of the first round. Expect them to try to take steps to acquire additional capital next year unless they have a player they want to go for in this draft. Lloyd is a very good player who fills a need.

16) Philadelphia Eagles

(from the Indianapolis Colts)

Jermaine Johnson, Edge, Fla. — Johnson is trending up and could be long gone at this point. If he drops, he’ll be another easy pick for the Eagles.

17) Los Angeles Chargers

Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State — There’s a glaring tackle hole and the Chargers could still use some depth at cornerback, but they’re taking the opportunity to add to their offensive arsenal and fire another shot in the arms race that is the AFC West.

18) New Orleans Saints

Drake London, WR, USC — While Michael Thomas is healthy and happy, which is a question mark, this is a team that needs an infusion of away talent. The fall of London in this place could facilitate the decision.

19) Philadelphia Eagles

Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington — It seems pretty unlikely the Eagles will make those three picks, but here they’re taking the opportunity to stay put and add a cornerback to solidify all three tiers of defense over the course of five picks.

20) Pittsburgh Steelers

Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan — Quarterback remains a possibility and Willis could be their man. But if they aren’t in love with any of the remaining options, they can opt for drafting assistance for free agent Mitch Trubisky’s signing.

21) New England Patriots

George Karalaftis, Edge, Purdue – There are several directions the Patriots could go, including cornerback where they lost a ton of talent. Karalaftis provides great value and helps bolster a pass rush that could use more juice.

22) Green Bay Packers

(from the Las Vegas Raiders)

Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas — The Packers are using the pick they received from the Raiders in exchange for Davante Adams to grab another receiver. Burks is exceptionally good after the catch.

23) Arizona Cardinals

Christian Watson, WR, ND State — Iowa inside lineman Tyler Linderbaum might fit the bill, but Watson is a quick riser and one of the most complete receiver prospects.

24) Dallas Cowboys

Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia — Wyatt helped himself with a great combine that answered questions about his explosiveness. He could leave much earlier if he had not already reached the age of 24.

25) Buffalo Notes

Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson — The Bills expect Tre White to be back and healthy. Now they have to find answers to the other cornerback position.

26) Adventurers of Las Vegas

(from the Tennessee Titans)

Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia — The Raiders acquire Dean, a linebacker who could run the defense for years, in exchange for Waller. Dean, the 2021 Butkus Award winner and the top linebacker prospect projected in the draft, was a three-year-old starter at Georgia.

27) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Zion Johnson, G, Boston College — Tampa Bay has done a decent job of covering offseason losses inside the offensive line during free agency, but there’s still a need for depth and skill. Johnson makes a lot of sense.

28) Green Bay Packers

Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa — Green Bay could go with another receiver because the need is so great, but the Packers are instead taking advantage of Penning’s recent slip and picking up a player they hope can start at the right tackle.

29) Kansas City Chiefs

(from the San Francisco 49ers

via Miami Dolphins)

Boye Mafe, Edge, Minnesota – Kansas City has a lot of catching up to do with the pass rush units the rest of the division has mustered.

30) Kansas City Chiefs

Kaiir Elam, BC, Fla. — The Chiefs have made just two first-round picks since 2016. Elam gives them a physical presence on the outside.

31) Cincinnati Bengals

Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M — Everywhere Joe Burrow looks at the draft, he stands and applauds an inside lineman who should be able to start on day one.

32) Detroit Lions

(from the Los Angeles Rams)

Daxton Hill, DB, Michigan — He can play just about any high school position and would likely find a way to play linebacker or even defensive line if asked at some point. Lions need help in all of these places.

Contact Adam Hill at [email protected] To follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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