Welcome to Thursday's edition of the With the First Pick newsletter. The Super Bowl of the NFL offseason is precisely one week or 1/52nd of the year away, and I'm charged up about it. I'm sure you are too. Every year, I ride this wave of unbridled excitement to Draft Day, when I explode out of bed, shadow box on my way to the shower, and feel like I'm floating until the draft begins. That's normal, right?
We'll still be chugging along with the rebrand of the Pick Six newsletter through the end of April. And I, CBS Sports NFL Draft analyst Chris Trapasso, will be with you every step of the way. This daily newsletter's sole purpose is to track everything transpiring in the NFL and spin it into a draft angle.
Before I begin, here's your daily reminder to tell all your buddies and that one uncle who's always texting you mock draft links to sign up for the With the First Pick newsletter. All you have to do is click here and then share this link with them.
Today's NFL mock draft 🔮: Commanders CRUSH it
[Brent Musburger voice] If you, you will be looking live at Josh Edwards' seven-round mock draft. It in you'll be treated to four quarterbacks in the first five picks, with Will Anderson sandwiched between them.
But I want to highlight the Commanders, a team I've yet to feature in the newsletter. Josh's mock has them landing Joey Porter Jr. in Round 1 to be the club's instant CB1. After that, it's Jack Campbell in the second to pair with Jamin Davis. As a card-carrying member of the Campbell Fan Club, naturally, I love it.
Then it's athletic tight end Josh Whyle and explosive runner Tyjae Spears from Tulane. But Ron Rivera's squadron is not done. Far from. Long, feisty, speedy corner Carrington Valentine is added in the fifth and the boring-to-watch, awesomely versatile blocker Warren McClendon is snagged in the next round. Ohio State safety Ronnie Hickman would be a steal at No. 215 overall, and Ole Miss' outside rusher Tavius Robinson is the perfect flyer in Round 7.
A few other notable picks:
30. Philadelphia Eagles - Keeanu Benton, DT, Wisconsin
46. New England Patriots - Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa
58. Dallas Cowboys - Roschon Johnson, RB, Texas
107. New England Patriots - Michael Wilson, WR, Stanford
253. San Francisco 49ers - Stetson Bennett, QB, Georgia
'With the First Pick' podcast 🎧: Cornerback and safety rankings
We haven't forgotten about you, defensive backs. This is the cornerbacks and safeties episode, and it's loaded with analysis on those members of the secondary. About as loaded as this cornerback class is. Ryan and Bryant start with cornerback sleepers, pause for a breakdown of Georgia's polarizing prospect Kelee Ringo, before getting into cornerback rankings.
The episode finishes with evaluations and rankings on the top safeties in 2023 class.
Biggest draft narratives: Safest prospects, who will fall, etc.
Everything's coming up Josh Edwards today. He recently reached out to Ryan Wilson and me for our contributions to this article thatpertaining to the first round. Beyond safest prospect and who will fall, Josh asked us which prospect has the biggest red flag, which team outside the Top 5 should target a quarterback, and many others.
Here's Ryan's answer to "Which prospect could make the biggest leap into Round 1?"
"Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State -- There hasn't been much first-round media buzz on JuJu, but NFL teams love his game. He's 6-3, ran a 4.53 at the combine and had some of the best times in the 3-cone and short shuttle. He can run with any wide receiver on deep routes and changes direction like he's a much smaller player. After Tariq Woolen's breakout campaign last season, it'll be hard to pass up on Brents early in the draft."
Take a QB early or wait? 👀
This piece from staffer Cody Benjamin Panthers, Texans, Colts -- and even the not-so-clearly QB needy clubs like the Seahawks, Lions and Raiders among many others selecting later in the first round. Here's what Cody wrote on the Vikings, one of those potential sleeper organizations that could sneak up and snag a quarterback in Round 1. Oh, and yeah, Cody thinks Minnesota should take a quarterback early.for those clearly QB-needy teams --
"Few teams are in a more unusual spot than the Vikings, who went 13-4 in Kevin O'Connell's debut but have spent most of this offseason purging notable names and pondering the future. There are any number of receivers, corners or pass rushers who could make sense at No. 23, but with Kirk Cousins entering a contract year and clearly entrenched in the tier below the rare but elite QBs, forward-thinking GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has plenty of reason -- and a potentially clean shot -- to pursue someone like Hooker, an ideal candidate to sit for a year before potentially taking over in 2024."
News & Notes 📝
- Patriots host Will Levis on final day for pre-draft visits. Hmmm. Very interesting. Now, I normally don't pay much attention to visits but . The Patriots hold the No. 14 overall pick.
- Jonathan Taylor not worried about contract. The Colts star runner -- a 2020 second-round pick -- seems to be when he signed his rookie deal, saying "I'm under contract here for four years. I put the pen to the paper, so that's where I'm at right now. I have an obligation to them, and an obligation to me, but things will happen naturally." The 2023 season is Taylor's contract year.
- WR prospect released from hospital. Louisiana's Michael Jefferson, firmly on the draft radar, was injured in a car accident on Easter. Last night, a statement was released that and doctors believe he should be able to resume playing football in 2024.