Welcome to installment No. 2 of the With the First Pick newsletter -- and hopefully this sequel is more like Back to the Future 2 than Dirty Dancing 2. If I could take an 88 mile per hour ride in the DeLorean into the future, I'd travel to the day after the first round of the draft, go back to publish a perfectly accurate mock draft, and then retire from mock drafts forever with that mic drop. But that's just me.
If you missed yesterday's debut edition, we're rebranding 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.
In this daily newsletter, I'll be tracking everything that transpires in the NFL and spin it all into a draft angle. Because there's always a draft angle! This newsletter is the place to get the latest on everything draft related.
This paragraph will be your daily reminder to tell all your buddies to sign up for the life-changing With the First Pick newsletter. Just click here and then share this link.
Today's NFL mock draft 🔮: Will Brinson brings the heat
The CBS Sports senior writer and podcast host extraordinaire dropped an atomic bomb with his mock draft 1.0. While I won't spoil the fun by revealing the landing spot for a certain former MVP quarterback who's requested a trade this month, here are notable selections in Brinson's fabulous mock, which you can read in its entirety here.
1. Carolina Panthers - Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
2. Houston Texans - C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
3. Arizona Cardinals - Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama
5. Seattle Seahawks - Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
8. Atlanta Falcons - Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
20. Seattle Seahawks - Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
22. Baltimore Ravens - Quentin Johnston, WR, Ravens
25. New York Giants - Joey Porter Jr., CB, Giants
30. Philadelphia Eagles - Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
On the Robinson selection for Seattle, Brinson wrote, "Kind of an outrageous pick and yet completely on brand for Pete Carroll and Seattle." Truer words have never been written. The Bijan pick at No. 20 overall after drafting Kenneth Walker in Round 2 last season would likely elicit robber baron Pete Carroll, one of my favorite GIFs on the Internet.
'With the First Pick' podcast 🎧: Lamar Jackson chatter
In the latest episode, before jumping into Ohio State, Alabama and Kentucky pro day analysis, Ryan Wilson and Rick Spielman waded into the Lamar Jackson waters. Had to, right? It's what everyone in the NFL world discussed at the start of the week. As a former GM, Rick provided awesome insight into what's become a messy situation. Listen to the entire episode right here.
Top 50 Big Board 📈: My strange obsession with 2023 Iowa draft prospects
Because I have a strange scouting eye or something, as usual, but I swear not on purpose, my Big Board looks a lot different than most. In reality, it's probably because I just value on-field components differently than many of my draft-analyst contemporaries.
I, too, bake positional value into my Big Board every year. Therefore, it's extraordinarily challenging for a running back to grade near the top of my rankings, and on the polar end of that, quarterbacks get large "position addition" boosts because of the inherent value of their position.
- No. 1 prospects at each position: C.J. Stroud (QB), Bijan Robinson (RB), Quentin Johnston (WR), Dalton Kincaid (TE), Darnell Wright (OT), Olusegun Oluwatimi (IOL), Will Anderson Jr. (EDGE), Jalen Carter (DL), Jack Campbell (LB), Cam Smith (CB), Brian Branch (S)
And some notable prospect rankings on my board:
22. Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa
30. Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
36. Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Robinson in the 30s is about as high as a running back can finish in my rankings. For context, I adored Jonathan Taylor in 2020 and he, ironically, was No. 36 on my final board that year. I usually lean toward plus athletes because most (not all) amazing NFL players are plus athletes, which explains why I'm so high on Richardson, Campbell, and Kancey. I have Iowa edge rusher Lukas Van Ness very high, too, and love cornerback Riley Moss. Both proved to be elite athletes at the combine. On that topic, Nolan Smith skyrocketed in my rankings after his otherworldly workout in Indy. He was quietly pretty productive as a rusher at Georgia without an advanced pass-rush move arsenal, a positive sign for his NFL upside. Oh, and I have a super-sleeper offensive guard from the MAC inside my top 40! You can check out my entire top 50 by clicking here.
No. 1 draft need for NFC teams: Prioritize the trenches
CBS Sports NFL Draft analyst Josh Edwards pinpointed the top draft need for all 16 NFC teams, and I immediately noticed a trend. Half the conference was listed with either an offensive or defensive line need.
Quarterback is the most vital position in football. But without an offensive line and a defensive front that can disrupt the opponent's passer, you're starting each game behind the eight ball. Josh selected quarterback for the Falcons even after Atlanta picked Desmond Ridder in the third round last year. I agree with Josh, by the way, and given head coach Arthur Smith's propensity to run the football, can someone explain why Atlanta isn't in on Lamar Jackson? (Yes I understand the cost to acquire him would be exorbitant, but still.)
News & Notes 📝
- Lamar Jackson to the Colts? Maybe. Or not. A lot to unpack here. In the aftermath of Jackson's trade request, the Colts aren't ruling out adding Jackson, per ESPn. However, at the owners meetings, Colts owner Jim Irsay said bluntly, "I do not believe in fully guaranteed contracts." Woof. Here are the 11 logical landing spots for Lamar.
- Bill Belichick successor? Also speaking at the owners meetings, Patriots owner Robert Kraft singled out Jerod Mayo as a possible heir apparent to Belichick but did mention other strong in-house candidates.
- Aaron Rodgers trade happening soon? Our Cody Benjamin recently explained that because the top front office members of both the Jets and Packers are together in Phoenix for the owners meetings, a trade should/could be consummated soon. Which/how many draft picks will Gang Green part with? And what's been the holdup?