Beau Talks Mocks: Beau Braden’s 2-round NFL Mock Draft

An early quarterback run and Arizona trade could give Seattle a blue-chip defensive lineman in Beau Braden’s predictive mock draft.


Beau Braden

C.J Stroud in a Houston Texans uniform.

BEAU BRADEN, Evergreen reporter

The NFL Draft is around the corner and that means all of your favorite outlets are creating mock drafts. Evergreen columnist Beau Braden makes his predictions for where the top-ranked football prospects could be headed in the NFL.

1. Carolina Panthers (via CHI) – QB Bryce Young, Alabama

The best quarterback available goes No. 1 overall. You don’t give up that haul to play it safe. 

2. Houston Texans – QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State

Houston plays it safe. 

3. Atlanta Falcons (via ARIZ) – QB Anthony Richardson, Florida

At this point, we’re all aware of Anthony Richardson’s combine vs. tape, but Arthur Smith’s offensive infrastructure allows Richardson to play Justin Fields ball with better weapons. Atlanta trades the No. 8, No. 44 and 2024 1st to move up for AR15 (and receive pick 105 from Arizona).


    Anthony Richardson in an Atlanta Falcons uniform.

4. Indianapolis Colts – EDGE Will Anderson Jr., Alabama

With Young, Stroud and Richardson off the board, Shane Steichen and Chris Ballard opt for Alabama Edge Will Anderson. Anderson has the tape, measurables, and high praise of Nick Saban to be the No. 1 pick.

5. Seattle Seahawks (via DEN) – DL Jalen Carter, Georgia

Carter’s legal situation swings the draft landscape. Legals aside, he’s among the best D-tackle prospects I’ve watched. His hands are heavy, and his feet are light. I don’t expect the Seahawks to pass up on blue-chip talent at No. 5. 

Beau Braden

    Jalen Carter in a Seattle Seahawks uniform.

6. Detroit Lions (via LAR) – EDGE Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech

Looking to the future, Detroit won’t have another opportunity to draft this high in the coming years. Tyree has elite movement skills for a 6-foot-6, 275-pound edge who can play all over the line of scrimmage. While his hand placement and pass rush plan need work, the Lions won’t pass on a physical, fluid mover with the same wingspan as Bo Cruz.

7. Las Vegas Raiders – CB Christian Gonzalez, Oregon

The Raiders had one of the worst PFF coverage grades in the NFL last season. Christian Gonzalez has it all as a lengthy, fluid corner who runs sub 4.40. This move also allows Nate Hobbs back to the slot, where he performed much better compared to outside corner. 

8. Arizona Cardinals (via ATL) – CB Devon Witherspoon, Illinois

Arizona moves back, knowing they need both quantity and quality, taking absolute ass-kicker Devon Witherspoon. The Cards need new juice in the building; Devon Witherspoon is a tone-setter in all facets of his game. 

9. Chicago Bears (via CAR) – T Peter Skoronski, Northwestern

The Bears move back to No. 9, receiving a plethora of picks and the playbook-opening D.J. Moore. The next step is protecting Justin Fields so Ryan Poles can properly evaluate the young QB. Skoronski is one of the more skilled pass protectors in this class, and if he doesn’t work at tackle, he’ll be a solid guard for the next five years. 

10. Philadelphia Eagles (via NO) – WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State

The NFL rejoices as Jalen Carter isn’t an Eagle. While he isn’t the fastest, Smith-Njigba is the best separator in the draft and provides Philly with a plug-and-play slot.

11. Tennessee Titans – T Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State

While Andre Dillard kicked my ass plenty, I’m not DeForest Buckner. The former Coug and No. 22 pick in 2019 is still unproven in the league. Paris Johnson Jr. is the most athletic tackle in the draft and has the frame to crack the top 15. 

12. Houston Texans (via CLV) – T Anton Harrison, Oklahoma

With their new QB’s blindside protector off the board, the Texans take Anton Harrison. Similar to Paris Johnson Jr., Harrison is extremely athletic and has the ability to play both left and right tackle. 

13. New York Jets – TE Dalton Kincaid, Utah

The possibility of Aaron Rodgers heading to the Jets becomes more real by the hour. New York takes the best route running tight end in the draft to complement the Jets’ free-agency receiver moves.

14. New England – EDGE Lukas Van Ness, Iowa

While his rush moves are limited, Van Ness has crazy power for a redshirt sophomore. Bill Belichick takes his edge project opposite Matt Judon.

15. Green Bay Packers – WR Quentin Johnston, TCU

Green Bay fans rejoice, you finally drafted a receiver in the first round … after moving on from Aaron Rodgers. 

16. Washington Commanders – QB Will Levis, Kentucky

Will Levis’ 2021 tape shows why he is a first-round pick. His fall stops with Washington.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers – CB Joey Porter Jr., Penn State

Team needs and the best player available align for Pittsburgh with Joey Porter Jr., a physical corner who can step in and be an immediate No. 1 on the outside. 

18. Detroit Lions – DL Calijah Kancey, Pitt

Detroit returns to the well at the defensive line taking Calijah Kancey from Pitt. 

19. Tampa Bay Buccanneers – T Broderick Jones, Georgia

The Bucs have many needs coming into the draft, but if they want to compete in an open NFC in 2023, they must give Baker Mayfield time in the pocket. Jones has an excellent punch and started two seasons protecting Stetson Bennett’s blind side. 

20. Seattle Seahawks – CB Deonte Banks, Maryland

Just like my ex, now dating an offensive lineman, Pete Carroll and John Schneider have a type. At 6 feet-2 inches and 205 pounds, Deonte Banks ran a 4.35 40, hit 42 inches in the vertical, and put up an 11 feet 4 inches broad jump. Seattle brings another big, athletic, physical corner to compliment Tariq Woolen and move Coby Bryant inside. 

21. Los Angeles Chargers – HB Bijan Robinson, Texas

Bijan Robinson is a top-3 level talent in this draft at a non-premium position. The best RB prospect since Saquon, drafting Robinson opens the Chargers’ offensive while also keeping this weapon away from Buffalo, Cincinnati and Kansas City.

22. Baltimore Ravens – EDGE Nolan Smith, Georgia

While relatively undersized, Nolan Smith stood out on two National Championship teams, especially in the run game. Production matters and Smith’s Combine numbers wowed enough to overlook his frame. 

23. Minnesota Vikings – WR Jordan Addison, USC

Following the departure of Adam Thielen, the Vikings add the Biletnikoff winner opposite Mr. Jettas.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars – S Brian Branch, Alabama

Nick Saban’s “star,” a role once filled by Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Jags stop Branch’s fall. 

25. New York Giants – WR Zay Flowers, Boston College

Great job, Giants. You owe Daniel Jones $66 mil over the next two years; here’s a 5-foot-9 receiver.  

26. Dallas Cowboys – EDGE Myles Murphy, Clemson

Myles Murphy looked like a top-10 pick in his freshman season. While his play fell in the previous two seasons, that could have coincided with Brent Venables’ departure. Dallas’ takes a bet on who we thought Murphy could be. 

27. Buffalo Bills – CB Cam Smith, South Carolina

Cam Smith does not have an elite athletic profile, but he’s incredibly smart and fills one of the few holes in Buffalo’s roster. 

28. Cincinnati Bengals – EDGE Will McDonald IV, Iowa State 

Will McDonald IV earned a PFF 92.6 pass-rushing grade against true pass sets in 2022. The explosive edge was inconsistent in other alignments but was excellent as a stand-up speed rusher. 

29. New Orleans Saints (via SF) – TE Michael Mayer, Notre Dame

While I don’t think Mayer’s playstyle will translate to the NFL as well as some projects, he’s a huge upgrade over Adam Trautman and Taysom Hill. 

30.  Philadelphia Eagles – DT Mazi Smith, Michigan

Philadelphia takes a swing at 30 with No. 1 on Bruce Feldman’s Freaks List, Mazi Smith. While he did not have the production front offices look for in college, the Eagles believe in their defensive line coaching.

31. Kansas City Chiefs – EDGE BJ Ojulari, LSU

The younger brother of Giants edge Azeez Ojulari, BJ is another creative pass rusher who created 127 in just three seasons at LSU. BJ also earned the historic No. 18 jersey at LSU, another check on his resume.

32. Seattle Seahawks (via CHI) – EDGE Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State

Let us first take a moment to acknowledge that the Steelers got this pick for Chase Claypool. Now because I’m an absolute scouting weapon, and John Schneider should at least connect with me on LinkedIn, WE traded up past multiple d-line needy teams sending picks No. 37 and 123 to Pittsburgh for my favorite edge prospect not named Will. Anudike-Uzomah is NFL-ready regarding pass-rush tools, bend, and frame. 

33. Houston Texans – DL Bryan Bresee, Clemson

34. Arizona Cardinals – G O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida

35. Indianapolis Colts – CB Emmanuel Forbes, Mississippi State

Indy loves microscopic corners. At  6-feet-1 inches and 160 pounds, Emmanuel Forbes is a giant in this CB room. 

36. Los Angeles Rams – EDGE Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern

37. Pittsburgh Steelers (via DEN) – T Dawand Jones, Ohio State

38. Las Vegas Raiders – G Steve Avila, TCU

39. Carolina Panthers – SLOT Josh Downs, North Carolina

40. New Orleans Saints – C Luke Wypler, Ohio State

41. Tennessee Titans – TE Luke Musgrave, Oregon State

42. Green Bay Packers (via CLE) – EDGE Tuli Tuipulotu, USC

43. New York Jets – T Darnell Wright, Tennessee

44. Arizona Cardinals – HB Jahmyr Gibbs, Houston

45. Green Bay Packers (via NYJ) – LB Jack Campbell, Iowa

You thought the Packers wouldn’t use a top-50 pick on a linebacker? 

46. New England Patriots – T Matthew Bergeron, Syracuse

The Pats reach on a tackle out of need. 

47. Washington Commanders – TE Sam LaPorta, Iowa

48. Detroit Lions – LB Daiyan Henley, Washington State

Homerism aside, Henley’s twitch is as fast as his processing. The former quarterback/wide receiver/safety can cover a lot of ground in the Lions’ defense; plus, he fills a Jamaal Williams-sized hole in the goofy department. 

49. Pittsburgh Steelers – CB Tyrique Stevenson, Miami

50. Tampa Bay Buccanneers – EDGE Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame

51. Miami Dolphins – C Joe Tippmann, Wisconsin

52. Seattle Seahawks – OL Cody Mauch, North Dakota State

Seattle knocked their 2022 tackle picks out of the park with Mike Leach protégés Charles Cross and Abe Lucas. Cody Mauch played tackle at NDSU but will surely be moved inside wherever he lands. The Hawks take the athletic lineman at 52. 

53. Chicago Bears (via BLT)  – CB Julius Brents, Kansas State

Another corner I like for Seattle Chicago takes a long, athletic corner in Julius Brents. 

54. Los Angeles Chargers – LB Drew Sanders, Arkansas

Drew Sanders was an edge rusher at Alabama before becoming a blitzing off-ball linebacker at Arkansas. I think he fits great learning from Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack. 

55. Detroit Lions (via MIN) – TE Darnell Washington, Georgia

Darnell Washington is one of the toughest players to project in this draft. I think Detroit comes away with a tight end. It’s just up to Dan Campbell to pick his guy. 

56. Jacksonville Jaguars – C John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota

The Jags bolster their interior offensive line with Chazz Michael Michaels. 

57. New York Giants – LB Trenton Simpson, Clemson

58. Dallas Cowboys – HB Devon Achane, Texas A&M

59. Buffalo Bills – WR Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee

60. Cincinnati Bengals – DL Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin

61. Chicago Bears (via SF) – HB Zach Charbonnet, UCLA

62. Philadelphia Eagles – S Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M

63. Kansas City Chiefs – WR Nathaniel Dell, Houston