11. Los Angeles Rams – Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama
It’s weird to see the Rams picking in the first round. I haven’t had them in a mock draft in a long time. Los Angeles has not made a first-round selection since taking Jared Goff No. 1 overall in 2016. After trading away Jalen Ramsey, it seemed like this Rams defense was in full rebuild mode. They have looked better than expected so far, but reinforcements are definitely still needed. McKinstry is my top corner at this point, thanks to his fluid hips, solid length and experience. He has all the makings of a future No. 1 corner at the NFL level.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Shedeur Sanders, QB, Colorado
Baker Mayfield has impressed so far this season, but let’s put things into perspective. He has played two of the worst defenses in the league and is playing on a one-year deal in Tampa. It’s hard for me to say that the Bucs should not draft a quarterback. Sanders certainly has won a lot of attention so far this season with his play at Colorado. He had a bit of an up-and-down outing against Colorado State, but his play thus far has been spectacular. He does not have the strongest arm, but he plays with great poise and anticipation. His mobility is definitely a plus as well. Placing him in an offense with Chris Godwin and (hopefully) Mike Evans would be a really good way to get him acclimated to the NFL.
13. Minnesota Vikings – Quinn Ewers, QB, Texas
Is this the end of Kirk Cousins in Minnesota? His future with the franchise is murky at best. That opens the door for Kwesi Odofo-Mensah to take his quarterback of the future. Ewers’ draft stock is largely based on projection at this point. He has some bright spots, like dominating Alabama. However, consistency, or lack thereof, has been his biggest drawback to this point. The Vikings appear to be at a turning point as a franchise. Aging veterans like Adam Theilen, Dalvin Cook and Patrick Peterson are all gone. This could be the start of a new era for the club.
14. New York Jets – Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame
Quarterback would be tempting here, but the top five prospects are off the board and the Jets offensive line is in desperate need of reinforcements. Be prepared to see offensive tackles projected to New York in just about any mock draft you read. Duane Brown is past his prime and injury-prone, and the team seems hesitant to give Mekhi Becton a chance at left tackle. Alt would solidify things and go a long way to protecting Aaron Rodgers and his surgically repaired Achilles in 2024.
15. Tennessee Titans – Barrett Carter, LB, Clemson
Tennessee needs some help in the middle layer of their defense. Jack Gibbens has been a diamond in the rough, but the Titans still need linebacker help. This would be a good spot for the first of two Clemson linebackers to come off the board in this mock draft. Carter is a dynamic playmaker who can line up all over the defense. Clemson even plays him out of the slot. He is a reliable cover man and plays fast. Mike Vrabel is a former linebacker himself, I have a tough time believing he would not relish the opportunity to work with a prospect as talented as Carter.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers – Jer’Zhan Newton, DL, Illinois
Pittsburgh’s defense stole the show on Monday night. They have some true stars. However, the Steelers tend to get ahead of needs before they come up. Cam Heyward is hurt and will turn 35 next offseason. Bringing in another defensive game-wrecker to pair with T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith and Keanu Benton would be a scary proposition for the rest of the AFC North. Newton should not be here at this point based on his talent, but the need for quarterbacks and receivers pushed him down a few slots. He is disruptive and strong at the point of attack. I have a feeling he would fit right in with the Steelers.
17. Seattle Seahawks – Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama
Seattle desperately needs some pass rushing help. It is a small sample size, but the Seahawks have just two sacks in their first two games, the fourth fewest in the league. Turner is the top edge prospect on the board for me here. He has really good length and burst. He is definitely a bit raw, but the upside is apparent. He finally woke up with a dominant performance against South Florida this weekend. Hopefully, he will start doing that against better competition as well.
18. Houston Texans via Cleveland Browns – Malik Nabers, WR, LSU
Perhaps this is a bit low for Nabers, especially coming off a monster 239-yard, two-touchdown performance this past weekend. Nabers is a very talented route runner with strong hands. He has all the makings of an elite possession receiver who can also stretch the field when needed. Houston has some exciting young prospects at receiver, but they need a clear No. 1 option for C.J. Stroud to grow with.
19. Green Bay Packers – Kalen King, CB, Penn State
It is hard to find exactly where the Packers need help when you look at this roster on paper. They have a really young group of pass catchers, seem to have their quarterback of the future and have invested a ton of draft capital into the defensive front seven. Projecting ahead, Rasul Douglas will be in a contract year in 2024. King is not the biggest corner, but he is an excellent cover man. He has the traits to be a No. 1 corner down the line. Letting him learn for a year before taking on a bigger role in Year 2 feels like a great spot for him.
20. Atlanta Falcons – Chop Robinson, EDGE, Penn State
Atlanta has been one of the most surprising teams in the league this season. With an exciting young core, the Falcons are building something that feels sustainable. They still need help with their pass rush though. Though it is a small sample size, three sacks in their first two games leave a lot to be desired. Robinson is a dynamic athlete with great burst, bend and relentless pursuit. He lacks the ideal length to play the position, but he makes up for a lot of that with his speed.