Mock Draft Medley: Panthers Shock, Bengals Draft a Running Back, Bears Take a Swing, More
I’ve said for some time that the Carolina Panthers are going to draft C.J. Stroud as the No. 1 pick on draft night. While the majority of mock drafts around the football world agree, you never know.
Take this recent mock draft by PFF’s Sam Monson, for example. Monson has the Panthers shocking everyone and taking Florida’s Anthony Richardson with the top pick in the draft. Yep. Anthony Richardson at No. 1 is certainly a bold mock.
Monson had this to say about Richardson going to the Panthers:
“I think Bryce Young is the best quarterback prospect in this draft, but if I’m Carolina, I’ve already traded up from No. 9 overall to make this move. I need a huge payoff. I am confident that Young will be a solid NFL quarterback, but will his limitations prevent him from becoming a great one? I don’t know.
Richardson’s elite athleticism and rushing threat give him a very high floor and enough breathing room to improve as a passer — specifically to fix his accuracy. He actually works through progressions and reads defenses well; he just can’t reliably connect with his target. If my coaching staff thinks that’s fixable, Richardson is the biggest potential home run.”
I admire the take. I’ve said in this space that I firmly believe that teams should be taking swings for high-upside players in the top ten picks. However, if Carolina takes Anthony Richardson at No. 1, after what they gave the Bears to move up from No. 9, and Richardson doesn’t pan out, the Scott Fitterer era in Carolina will be over. Taking these types of swings can make you the executive of the year and maybe even a Super Bowl champion. But missing on this pick would likely cost Fitterer his job.
That said, I don’t believe that Fitterer will share Monson’s gumption on April 27, and I don’t see this one panning out as such.
Monson had some other picks in his most recent mock that also caught my eye
The consensus pick for the Bears has been Ohio State tackle Paris Johnson Jr. I’m not too fond of it. I’ve made that abundantly clear. I said at the BN Live last week I would take a player like Jaxson Smith-Njigba instead of any of the offensive linemen in this draft at No. 9. I also mocked cornerback Devon Witherspoon to the Bears last Friday. I am also okay with the Bears trading back at No. 9 if a home run isn’t there.
However, I can’t say that this pick doesn’t fit the high-upside swing that I’ve preached: Calijah Kancey.
Monson has the Bears taking Kancey, a high-upside defensive tackle. So, for those who have been pining for the Bears to address the obvious needs in round one, a defensive tackle checks that box.
You can read more of my thoughts on Kancey here:
Monson also has the Bengals taking Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer:
“Michael Mayer is the best all-around tight end in this class. He’s a natural fit within the Bengals’ offense, even if free agent acquisition Irv Smith Jr. stays healthy for the first time in his career. Mayer should be a plus blocker right away and can win consistently in an offense already bristling with passing weaponry.”
Mayer replacing Hayden Hurst in the Bengals offense would be a nice upgrade for Cincinnati, giving Joe Burrow anoter solid target to throw too next season.
But, what if the Bengals drafted Joe Mixon’s replacement instead?
NBC Sports Connor Rodgers went a different route for the Bengals in his latest mock draft. Rodgers has Bijan Robinson going to Cincinnati at No. 28.
“I was torn in this spot as the Bengals could walk away with either the best tight end in Michael Mayer or the best overall playmaker in Bijan Robinson. With the lack of long-term confidence in Joe Mixon being on the roster, how could anyone pass up the blue-chip talent from Texas here?I wouldn’t be surprised if a team jumps back into Round 1 to get him.”
I’m not sure I see Bijan Robinson getting to 28, but if he does, he would be an excellent addition to the Bengals offense for the next four-five years. And, a cost controlled on at that.
Joe Mixon signed a four-year contract extension worth $48 million with the Bengals on September 1, 2020. The Bengals can save $7.2 million against the cap if they cut Mixon after the 2023 season.
Other interesting picks in Rodgers’ latest mock draft at NBC Sports Edge
- T Peter Skoronski to the Bears at No. 9 — Again, I hate the offensive lineman pick for the Bears at No. 9. I think any of them, especially Skoronski, would be underwhelming. Maybe okay, but certainly underwhelming.
- WR Jaxon Smith Njigba to the Packers at No. 15 — I would hate, hate, hate this. The only thing worse than the Bears not landing Justin Fields’ old pal and teammate, Jaxson Smith-Njigba, would be the Packers landing him.
- WR Quentin Johnston to the Giants at No. 25 — If Quentin Johnston made it this far down the board (which seems reasonably possible at this point), he would be an excellent addition to the Giants’ offense and a great weapon for their newly extended quarterback.
You can check out Rodgers complete round one mock draft here: