11. Las Vegas Raiders (5-7) - Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington
This is not meant as any disrespect to Aidan O’Connell, who I think has stepped in and performed well as a rookie. I just don’t buy into him as a long-term starter at this point. Meanwhile, Penix has a lot of the tools you want from a franchise quarterback. His arm strength is impressive, his ball placement is really good and he has one of the best deep balls in this draft class. His age and injury history will definitely be major talking points, but I think he could step in and have instant success in this Raiders offense.
12. Los Angeles Chargers (5-7) - Jer’Zhan Newton, DL, Illinois
Mock drafting for the Chargers is a difficult task these days. Not because they don’t have clear needs, but because the direction of the organization feels up in the air. Brandon Staley is a lame duck. There is no guarantee Tom Telesco is back either. With all of that in mind, I think the Chargers have needed a defensive tackle for several years now. Newton is a game-wrecker, capable of lining up all over the defensive line. Depending on what scheme the new coaching staff runs, he can line up as a 3-tech or a 5-tech.
13. Buffalo Bills (6-6) - Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama
Buffalo’s defense has fallen apart. Injuries have played a major role, with Matt Milano, and Tre’Davious White both missing significant time. However, the secondary is an issue even beyond White’s injury. Adding the top cover corner in this draft class, at least by my eye to this point, would go a long way to helping the Bills get back on track. McKinstry is a physical corner with good size and length. He can run with receivers downfield and understands how to position himself at a high level.
14. Denver Broncos (6-6) - Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA
Consider this a luxury pick for the Broncos. Denver has been red hot of late, thanks in large part to improved play from its defense. Despite that resurgence, the Broncos rank 26th in the league in sacks this season. If you are looking for the best pure pass rusher in this class, it would be Latu. He is a fiend coming off the edge and can torment interior linemen when allowed UCLA moves him around. The biggest issue is going to be his medical history. He was forced to medically retire at Washington only to transfer to UCLA to continue his playing career. Jaelan Phillips faced a similar plight, ironically leaving the Bruins to play at Miami. Phillips was taken 16th overall in 2021.
15. Seattle Seahawks (6-6) - Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama
Seattle has been building up its front seven in recent years, drafting Boye Mafe and Derrick Hall, signing Dremont Jones, and trading for Leonard Williams. However, Williams does not have a new deal done yet and Darrell Taylor will likely leave in free agency, meaning there is still more investing to be done in that group. Adding Turner should help fill that void. He is an explosive player off the edge with a good bend and an enticing upside. He has started to realize some of that potential this season, but I think he has even more room to grow.
16. Los Angeles Rams (6-6) - Bo Nix, QB, Oregon
How much longer can Matthew Stafford play? That is a question the Rams have to answer this offseason. I’m not willing to bet much on his long-term availability. In a deep quarterback class, this feels like the perfect time to find his successor. Los Angeles is still in the midst of a roster overhaul. They have young players playing key roles all over this roster, mixed with a few aging stars in Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald. Adding Nix would give them a reliable passer with a good arm to play point guard in Sean McVay’s system. He has come a long way from his Auburn days and could be in line to start for the Rams in 2025.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (6-6) - Rome Odunze, WR, Washington
I’m sad to say it, but Tee Higgins is likely going to exit in free agency this offseason. Cincinnati simply has too many players they need to pay. However, it is easier than ever to draft a replacement for the position, especially this year. This draft class is loaded with talented receivers. Odunze is already the fourth of the board and he has true No. 1 wideout potential. He has improved immensely at making contest catches, has a knack for creating big plays, and consistently produces at a high level. Odunze only has one game this season where he had fewer than 82 receiving yards and has gone over the century mark on eight different occasions. Pairing him with Ja’Marr Chase would help the Bengals continue their impressive offensive run once Joe Burrow is healthy.
18. Arizona Cardinals via Houston Texans (7-5) - Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa
After getting some outside help on offense, let’s find the Cardinals some of that on the defensive side of the ball. DeJean is a playmaker. He has seven interceptions over the past two seasons, including three pick-sixes in 2022. Measuring in at over 6’0”, he can play outside, but he also has the versatility to line up in the slot and at safety. Plus, he offers some additional value as in the return game. For a Cardinals defense currently allowing the highest completion percentage to opposing quarterbacks in the entire league, DeJean would be a welcome addition.
19. Atlanta Falcons (6-6) - J.T. Tuimoloau, EDGE, Ohio State
Yes, the Atlanta Falcons need a quarterback. However, I think it is more likely the organization will go with a veteran passer, maybe swinging a deal for Justin Fields or signing Ryan Tannehill. The Falcons also need a pass rush. They rank 28th in sacks and 29th in pass rush win rate. Tuimoloau is more of a projection than a finished product at this point, with only 11 career sacks. However, he has the traits to develop into a long-term starter.
20. Green Bay Packers (6-6) - Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia
At this point, Jordan Love has done enough to warrant the Packers entrusting him for another season. If that is the plan, then building around him is a must. Green Bay’s offensive line is banged up and aging. With David Bahktiari seemingly done and Yosh Nijman in a contract year, offensive tackle feels like the logical place to go. Mims is quickly becoming one of my favorite players in this draft class. He has great mobility for his size and I appreciate how seamlessly he returned from injury. The only thing I don’t love about this fit is it requires one of Tom or Mims to play left tackle, something neither has much experience doing. I believe Mims can make the switch, but that is definitely a bit of a risk.