Earlier this week, I unveiled part one of my NFL mock draft, which was picks 1-10. If you missed it, you can read that here. Today, this is part two, which are picks 11-20. With that being said, the Tennessee Titans are on the clock.
Pick Number 11: Tennessee Titans, Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State
The Tennessee Titans are in an uncertain position offensively. They have a new quarterback in Malik Willis and for a team that frequently utilizes the running game, they will need to upgrade at several positions. They received lowest grade among offensive lines in football from ESPN analyst Mike Clay. I expect Tennessee to draft Johnson with their first-round pick. His biggest strengths are that he has the ability to play either guard or tackle and is extremely quick with moving his feet. He earned first-team All-Big-Ten accolades this past season. If the Titans offense will find a way to improve, it starts with their offensive line, much like the Bears.
Pick Number 12: Houston Texans, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
To put it simply, the Houston Texans were AWFUL on offense in 2022. Their best receiver, Brandin Cooks only had 699 receiving yards in 13 games and he only scored three touchdowns. Cooks was traded to the Dallas Cowboys earlier in the offseason so they will need a new number-one receiver. Smith-Njigba excels as a slot receiver and has a knack for tracking deep throws accurately. The one knock on him is that he missed the majority of the 2022 season due to various injuries. His finish to the 2021 season was electric as he averaged 192 yards in his final five games. If he can stay healthy, I believe he can hit the ground running as an NFL receiver.
Pick Number 13: New York Jets, Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
I project another offensive lineman will be off the board, this time at pick number 13. The New York Jets will need offensive line help as they look to protect incoming quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rumors were circulating all offseason that the Green Bay Packers were going to try to acquire the number 13 overall pick as part of compensation in the Rodgers trade but they have since lowered their asking price. With that being said, Broderick Jones is projected to be their selection. They ranked in the middle of the pack as far as fewest sacks allowed, but they struggled mightily with running the football as that was the weakness of their offensive line only running the ball 37.7% of the time. Jones has the great ability to make all the blocks necessary for zone and power run schemes. I expect the Jets to make this move come draft day.
Pick Number 14: New England Patriots, O’Cyrus Torrence, OT, Florida
The New England Patriots are in a rebuild offensively. Like the Tennessee Titans, they utilize the running game quite often and will need upgrades on their offensive line after losing former left tackle Isaiah Wynn and former right tackle Marcus Cannon to free agency. They have not yet signed any offensive linemen in free agency as of now so it would be wise for the Patriots to draft one. Torrence’s strengths are that he has a wide build to create impediments against interior pass rushers. More importantly, he has already gone against stout defensive linemen in the past, as he held his own against Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter.
Pick Number 15: Green Bay Packers, Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
The Packers are in the midst of a rebuild with several uncertainties on offense. They traded away their star wide receiver Davante Adams after the 2021 season and had a very inexperienced wide receiver group to go alongside Aaron Rodgers. With Rodgers now out of Green Bay, the Packers will turn things over to Jordan Love, the replacement for Rodgers who they drafted in 2020. The Packers really only have two receivers to work with: Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs. Allen Lazard was a free agent and signed with the New York Jets just last month to play with Rodgers. Quentin Johnston is a big, fast, physical receiver who can stretch the field, which is exactly what the Packers need. The Packers have not taken an offensive skill position player in the first round (wide receiver, running back, tight end) since 2002 when they drafted Javon Walker. Let’s see if that changes in 2023.
Pick Number 16: Washington Commanders, Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
The Commanders have a great run defense with defensive lineman Chase Young but could tighten up their pass defense some. Banks has outstanding size and length which works in his favor, according to most draft experts. He also has experience in a variety of coverage schemes. He posted a season stat line of eight pass breakups, 38 tackles, and one interception in 12 games last season at Maryland. The Commanders ranked 27th in pass defense last season so this would be an ideal pick for them to help improve their secondary.
Pick Number 17: Pittsburgh Steelers, Nolan Smith, Edge rusher, Georgia
The Steelers are a defensive team so it would not be a surprise for them to add another pass rusher to pair alongside superstar linebacker TJ Watt. Despite a season-ending pectoral injury in November, Smith had a great season at Georgia posting 18 tackles and three sacks. The year before, he posted 56 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and one interception. His biggest strength according to most scouts is that Smith plays with a team-first mindset and that fits into the Steelers’ culture. He ran a 4.3 40-yard dash at the scouting combine so he can use his speed to his advantage. This would not be a surprising pick at all for Pittsburgh come April 27th.
Pick Number 18: Detroit Lions, Calijah Kancey, DL, Pittsburgh
The Lions were not very good on defense last year. In fact, they ranked 28th out of 32 in run defense and dead last in most points allowed per game. They didn’t put much pressure on quarterbacks either as they only accumulated 39 total sacks. Calijah Kancey, a defensive lineman from the University of Pittsburgh can help solve that problem. In his two years as a starter, he accumulated a total of 14.5 sacks and 27.5 tackles. His biggest strength is that he has a very quick first step and he is an excellent pass rusher. The only downside is his lack of size as he’s only 6’1, 281 lbs. I expect Detroit to look into improving their defensive line and Kancey would be a fine selection.
Pick Number 19: Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
The Bucs had a pretty good defense a year ago and with Tom Brady’s retirement, they just look to re-tool it and become even better. Tampa is unfortunately heavily tied up in salary cap for next year because of the way Tom Brady’s contract was set up so they have very little room to sign an experienced cornerback in free agency. They lost Sean Murphy-Bunting to free agency so Gonzalez would be a nice replacement. Gonzalez is a very physical corner and has a rare combo of size, explosiveness, and speed. This would be an appropriate pick for the Bucs in the draft so we will see what happens.
Pick Number 20: Seattle Seahawks, Jordan Addison, WR, USC
The Seahawks have a very good offense with the likes of DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett so I believe Jordan Addison will be more of a luxury pick and a good backup to the duo and perhaps we would see him as a kick returner occasionally. Addison’s biggest strengths are that he has elite athleticism and he has a good ability to get in and out of breaks quickly. Addison transferred from Pitt to USC in 2022. also worthy of note: he did have experience as a punt returner all three years of his college career so that could come in handy.
This was part two of my mock draft which picked 11-20. Part three will be coming soon. Stay tuned.