25. Buffalo Bills- Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
Out of every first-round prospect this year, regardless of position, Trent McDuffie is perhaps the one I know the least about. The NFL, though, seems to know quite a bit, and is wildly high on him as a prospect. McDuffie is aggressive in all the right ways, knows his different coverages, is a versatile defender, and knows exactly how to control his body to stick to receivers. He’s just a bit small for the position, but with how fearless he tends to be in coverage, I don’t think that being 5’11 going to affect him too much at the professional level.
26. Tennessee Titans- Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
And the Titans go for, you guessed it, another Georgia defender. I think the Titans have their pick of the litter here, even at No. 26, considering the amount of defensive options available for them. Dean was, much like most of the other Georgia defenders, a force in college football this season. He’s a bit small for a linebacker at 6’0 225, but I would also argue that he’s the exact kind of hybrid defender that the NFL is looking for right now, in the mold of Patrick Queen and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
I flip-flopped on this pick quite a few times before finally landing on Hall. I thought the Bucs might opt for a defensive player like Houston’s Logan Hall, or a lineman like Boston College’s Zion Johnson. But with free agency going the way it’s been going, they need a running back for the returning Tom Brady. Breece Hall is a do-it-all back who I don’t think is truly elite at any one thing, but he’s “pretty good” at most aspects of being a bellcow running back.
28. Green Bay Packers- David Ojabo, LB, Michigan
Green Bay added a receiver with their first pick in my mock, and now I have them going with a bit of the risk in Michigan’s David Ojabo. Ojabo is a fantastic player, and it’s a shame that his Achilles injury is probably going to drop him out of the first round. That being said, I think Green Bay is willing to take this risk on a player that could be a really nice defensive pickup, even if not as a rookie.
29. Miami Dolphins- Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
Bernhard Raimann is a raw tackle prospect, but tackle is an area of serious need and No. 29 is a perfect place in the first round to take a chance like this. If Miami really wants to give Tua Tagovailoa a fair shake as their quarterback, they need to make him as safe as possible, considering his injury history. Raimann has a lot of room to grow as a tackle, but I think he has, at the very least, the capacity to be a top tackle in the NFL. And at No. 29, potential is something you’re willing to bank on.
30. Kansas City Chiefs- Perrion Winfrey, DT, Oklahoma
I’m not sure why Perrion Winfrey has dropped so much throughout the draft process, but he’s certainly taken a nose-dive since mock drafts of November and December. I guess I must be higher on Winfrey than some others, and I think the Chiefs are really getting some nice value here. The AFC is stacked, and specifically the AFC West is the best division in football right now. In order to compete with these offenses, the Chiefs need some way to slow them down, and pressure up the middle is perfect for that.
31. Cincinnati Bengals- Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
The Bengals were the surprise in the league in 2021, in large part due to their offense led by the emergent Joe Burrow. Now that the Bengals have shown that they’re a real contender in the AFC, they need their defense to be able to match their offense. I’m not sure if Kaiir Elam is ever going to be a top corner in the NFL, but I think he can be a complementary piece to… someone, for Cincinnati. They still need to figure that out, at least in my opinion.
32. Detroit Lions- George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue
The Lions grab maybe the steal of the first round right at the tail end, nabbing Purdue edge rusher George Karlaftis at No. 32. Karlaftis is exactly the kind of player that head coach Dan Campbell is looking for when he says he wants to “bite some kneecaps” with the Lions. The former Boilermaker’s motor never, ever stops, and he’s been productive with Purdue because of this. He might not be stellar against the run, but he has the drive to get better and consistently make plays on superior effort alone. This is a great pick to end the first round on, and I really do believe it could be the steal of the first round.