Connect with us

NFL

Debuting our first 2025 NFL mock draft: Two trades — for star QBs — in the top five picks

Published

on

One week ago, we were gearing up for the first round of the 2024 NFL draft. Today, we’re projecting the first round of the 2025 draft. I’m finding landing spots for top prospects in the opening 32 picks in our way-too-early mock draft.

Couple of disclaimers before we get rolling:

  • No, I did not make the draft order. The order of these teams doesn’t reflect who I think will make the playoffs or who is going to the Super Bowl. We simply took the inverse of Super Bowl odds from ESPN BET, breaking some ties based on the 2023 standings and tweaking the back end to ensure the appropriate number of teams from each conference are in the playoff slots (Nos. 19-32). The Panthers — who have the longest Super Bowl odds right now — claim the No. 1 pick.

  • This is super early. I haven’t spent a ton of time watching tape on these 2025 prospects yet, and I expect plenty to change between now and next April (or really, even this fall). This is based solely on where things stand right now, what I’ve seen from the class so far and what I’m hearing around the league.

We saw a record-tying six quarterbacks get drafted on Day 1 last week, and while I don’t expect us to be in that ballpark in 2025, I did predict three signal-callers (and two via projected trades) in this early mock. Whereas this year’s first round leaned historically on offense, next year’s group is loaded with defense. I have 19 players on that side of the ball here. But that isn’t where we begin things …

Note: Underclassmen are noted with an asterisk.

Projected trade: Giants come up the board

We don’t know which team will actually have the No. 1 pick next year, but I could certainly see the Giants making a call to whoever it is to try to get there. The No. 1 slot has been traded only 13 times during the common draft era (since 1967), but the Panthers might make it back-to-back years if things fall this way. The Giants would have to package something in the ballpark of a second-rounder and their 2026 first-rounder — but it’s too early to map all of that out.


Carson Beck, QB, Georgia

The Giants showed some faith in Daniel Jones recapturing his 2022 form off his torn ACL this season by passing on the quarterbacks still on the board at No. 6 last week (although they reportedly tried to trade up for one of the top three passers). But things could change by this time next year, especially since there will be no more guaranteed money on Jones’ contract.

Beck is one of the most talented QBs in the country, as he finished the 2023 season with a 72.4% completion rate (fourth best in FBS) and an 86 QBR (fifth). He was actually QB4 on my Hot Board at the end of last season and trending toward top-50 pick status before announcing that he’d return for his senior season.


Mykel Williams, EDGE, Georgia*

The Commanders laid a firm foundation for the roster with their 2024 draft picks, but the defense still lacks youth on the edge. Williams is the most impressive 2025 prospect I’ve watched on tape so far. He played a lot of defensive tackle last season and still had 4.5 sacks, but he’s transitioning to a full-time outside linebacker role this year. He’s still only 19 years old and has so much upside. In fact, I think he’s a potential No. 1 pick candidate next April.


Will Campbell, OT, LSU*

The Patriots’ starting left tackle this season will likely be Chukwuma Okorafor. He’s on a one-year deal, meaning New England should be searching for a long-term solution to protect the blind side of Drake Maye. Campbell is a technician who plays with poise, displaying the foot quickness and balance to mirror and match defenders in pass protection. He has played only left tackle during his career at LSU (1,625 total snaps) and didn’t allow any sacks last season.


James Pearce Jr., EDGE, Tennessee*

Pearce has a rare combination of bend and closing speed. He’s a scheme-versatile defender who had a 20.2% pressure rate (third in the FBS), 10 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss last season, and he was especially great on third down (25.5% pressure). The Panthers need an explosive edge rusher after trading Brian Burns to the Giants this offseason.

play

1:44

Who are the favorites to be top pick in next year’s NFL draft?

Jordan Reid names outside linebacker James Pearce Jr. of Tennessee as his favorite to be the top pick in the 2025 NFL draft.


Projected trade: Raiders finally get their QB

Six quarterbacks were already off the board by the time the Raiders were on the clock at No. 13 last week, so perhaps Las Vegas will instead address the position next year. And I think it would want to be more aggressive in 2025 rather than risking missing out on its guy, hence the projected trade up. Gardner Minshew and Aidan O’Connell likely aren’t the long-term solutions.


Shedeur Sanders, QB, Colorado

With Davante Adams, Jakobi Meyers and Brock Bowers on offense, the Raiders can set up a young passer really well. And Sanders is a smooth operator whose game centers on his great ball placement (69.3% completion rate last season, eighth in the FBS) and calm demeanor when protected in the pocket. He took 52 sacks in 2023 behind a struggling offensive line, so Sanders’ internal clock must speed up before he gets to the next level; he tends to compound mistakes by holding on to the ball too long. But he has a ton of talent and can certainly be the answer for Las Vegas. I see a lot of similarities to Geno Smith in his game.


Kelvin Banks Jr., OT, Texas*

Finding protection for Bo Nix is a high priority for Denver. Banks is a raw pass-protector, but he has all of the necessary tools to become a high-end starter at the next level. He has played on the left side since setting foot in Austin (1,788 total snaps) and has allowed only two sacks over those two seasons. But I think Banks might be even more impressive as an overwhelming run-blocker.


Will Johnson, CB, Michigan*

At 6-foot-2 and 202 pounds, Johnson is a big, patient corner with fluid hips and excellent movement skills. He transitions in and out of his backpedal extremely well, though he will need to become more disciplined in coverage this season before turning pro. He can be overaggressive attacking routes. Still, Johnson allowed just 14 catches into his coverage last season (zero TDs) and hauled in four interceptions. I could see some comparisons to Pat Surtain II coming his way. Arizona drafted Max Melton and signed Sean Murphy-Bunting, but the CB room still has a ways to go.


Mason Graham, DT, Michigan*

Minnesota’s interior defensive line lacks a consistent presence, and Harrison Phillips is entering the final year of his contract. Graham is a rugged, heavy-handed run defender and disruptive pass-rusher. He had 7.5 tackles for loss and three sacks last season, and he’d fit great with defensive coordinator Brian Flores’ scheme.


Abdul Carter, EDGE, Penn State*

Defensive end was one position the Saints didn’t address in the 2024 draft, and they need to find an heir apparent to Cameron Jordan, who will be 35 years old this season. Carter is moving from middle linebacker into an edge rusher role this year, and he could thrive there thanks to his length and suddenness. Despite limited edge rush opportunities, Carter had 22 pressures and 4.5 sacks last season. His skill set leads to Micah Parsons flashbacks for Penn State fans, and he could make a big impact for New Orleans.


Luther Burden III, WR, Missouri*

With DeAndre Hopkins entering the final year of his contract, finding a young receiver to play opposite Calvin Ridley makes sense. Burden is an explosive tackle-breaker. His 32 forced missed tackles was the fifth most among all FBS receivers last season, and his 710 yards after the catch (out of 1,212 total receiving yards) ranked third.


Travis Hunter, CB, Colorado*

Is Hunter an NFL wide receiver or cornerback? That question will be asked a lot over the next 12 months, but I personally view him as a corner at the next level. The Seahawks already have two building blocks there in Riq Woolen and Devon Witherspoon, but adding Hunter as an interchangeable defensive back would give them options. Hunter plays like he has springs in his cleats and has a sixth sense for tracking the ball in the air. He closed last season with three interceptions, showing off great instincts.


Quinn Ewers, QB, Texas*

Yes, Pittsburgh just redid its QB room, but Russell Wilson and Justin Fields (declined fifth-year option) are both on expiring deals this season. Ewers is still inconsistent with ball placement and downfield accuracy, but he has all the traits you’d want in an NFL quarterback, and another season in Steve Sarkisian’s offense could help catapult his development. This is a bit of a projection — scouts had Day 3 grades on Ewers for the 2024 class before he decided to return to school — but there is potential here.


Benjamin Morrison, CB, Notre Dame*

Trading Carlton Davis III to the Lions left a hole at cornerback for Tampa Bay. Morrison is a ball hawk with nine interceptions over the past two seasons, and he broke up 13 passes in 2023 alone, tied for eighth most in the FBS. A true press-man perimeter defender, Morrison has very good footwork, but his grabby nature when matching patterns will need coaching.


Malaki Starks, S, Georgia*

I like what Indianapolis has done with the defense, including landing edge rusher Laiatu Latu in Round 1 last week, but free safety could now use a true playmaker. The savviness and instincts of Starks pop on tape, as he had six pass breakups and two interceptions during his 2023 sophomore campaign. At 6-1 and 205 pounds, he’s a sure tackler, finishing last season with a 95% tackle percentage (second best among all DBs in the FBS).


Patrick Payton, EDGE, Florida State*

Jared Verse was the headliner of the Seminoles’ defensive front last season, but Payton was impossible to ignore opposite him on tape. The toolsy edge rusher is still trying to put it all together, but his game slowly began to click last season, when he had 7 sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss and 39 pressures. Chicago added Austin Booker on Day 3, but it could still use someone like Payton to line up opposite Montez Sweat.


Tetairoa McMillan, WR, Arizona*

More pass-catchers are needed for Justin Herbert, and McMillan is a massive 6-5 target who can align anywhere in formations. He’s a long-striding route runner with Velcro-like hands, and he has plenty of speed for a bigger wideout. McMillan averaged 107.8 receiving yards per game last season (fifth in the FBS) and caught a touchdown in five of his final six games.

play

0:13

Tetairoa McMillan makes an incredible one-handed grab for an Arizona TD

Tetairoa McMillan goes up and snags a TD with one hand to bring Arizona back level with Colorado at 24.


Denzel Burke, CB, Ohio State

With Tyson Campbell entering the final year of his contract and limited depth on the outside, there are a lot of questions about the long-term future at cornerback in Jacksonville. After a disappointing and injury-riddled 2022, Burke bounced back and returned to form as a junior last season. He can play in press man or off coverage, with the read-and-react skills to fit in any scheme. Burke had nine pass breakups in 2023, and if he puts up more good tape in 2024, he has first-round potential.


Emery Jones Jr., OT, LSU*

Jack Conklin and Dawand Jones are coming off knee injuries, and Jedrick Wills Jr. is entering the final year of his contract, making offensive tackle a high priority in Cleveland. A forceful and tenacious run-blocker, Emery Jones Jr. embarrasses defenders by imposing his will. He allowed four sacks in 2023 as a pass-protector, and his hand timing and placement must improve. But his power makes him an intriguing prospect.


Deone Walker, DT, Kentucky*

Even after they drafted Kobie Turner and Braden Fiske along the interior in back-to-back drafts, I’d still like to see the Rams bring in a true gap-eater inside. Interior defenders who are 6-6 and 348 pounds almost never move as well as Walker, who is nimble-footed for his size. He collected 7.5 sacks last season, and 30 of his 39 pressures came while aligned as a defensive tackle. Walker has quick hands and a wide array of moves as a pass-rusher, but his pad level has to improve.


Nic Scourton, EDGE, Texas A&M*

Three of the Falcons’ first four draft picks came along the defensive line, but Bralen Trice (Round 3) was the only edge rusher of the bunch. They haven’t had an edge rusher reach double-digit sacks since Vic Beasley had 15.5 in 2016, so it’s probably time to invest at the position. Scourton is a heavy-handed power rusher who can change up his repertoire to defeat blockers. At Purdue last season, before a transfer, he collected 10 sacks and posted a 16.8% pressure rate (11th-highest in the FBS).


Emeka Egbuka, WR, Ohio State

Mike Williams joined the Jets on a one-year deal, and they drafted Malachi Corley in Round 3, but they could keep pursuing playmakers beyond Garrett Wilson. With high expectations coming into last season, Egbuka battled a nagging ankle injury that led to surgery. But when healthy, he’s a crafty and sharp route runner with enough burst to generate separation by overexaggerating body movements. Egbuka was limited to 41 catches and 515 receiving yards last season, but he’s aiming to rebound in 2024.


Colston Loveland, TE, Michigan*

The Dolphins signed Jonnu Smith, but let’s keep adding to the tight end group for Tua Tagovailoa. At 6-5, Loveland is a lanky coverage penetrator with the speed to find the soft spots in zone. He’s capable of lining up in-line and from the slot, and his production has only continued to increase over time; he finished last season with 45 catches, 649 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns.


JT Tuimoloau, EDGE, Ohio State

The cap number for Preston Smith jumps to $17.5 million in 2025, which means Green Bay might have to make a decision on him. The Packers have focused on adding young depth alongside him with Lukas Van Ness and Kingsley Enagbare, and Tuimoloau could be next. Tuimoloau likely would have been an early-Day 2 selection had he come out this year. Fierce against the run, he routinely sets a firm edge, but his consistency as a pass-rusher can still improve.


Harold Perkins Jr., LB, LSU*

Perkins is an ideal fit in DeMeco Ryans’ scheme. He has spent time at the first and second levels of the Tigers’ defense, but he is expected to be a full-time inside linebacker this season. Perkins is an explosive playmaker, with 13 sacks and 28.5 tackles for loss over the past two seasons, but he has to improve his read-and-react skills.


Dani Dennis-Sutton, EDGE, Penn State*

The Eagles are always looking to add pass-rushers. Dennis-Sutton’s draft stock is still very much a projection, but he has all the tools to make a major leap in 2024. At 6-5 and 258 pounds, he generated 24 pressures, 8 tackles for loss and 2 forced fumbles in 2023 despite starting only three games.


Evan Stewart, WR, Oregon*

Outside of CeeDee Lamb, the Cowboys haven’t really found a dependable pass-game option on the perimeter. That’s why I like Stewart as a fit in Dallas. He is a sudden route runner with instant acceleration to threaten defenders in a hurry. The Texas A&M transfer lacks play strength, as only 27 of his 514 receiving yards came after contact last season, and he managed three forced missed tackles over eight games. Even so, the flashes suggest big upside and a potential breakout year.


Isaiah Bond, WR, Texas*

Surprisingly, Keon Coleman (Round 2) was the only WR addition at the draft for a Bills team that lost Stefon Diggs (trade) and Gabe Davis (free agency), so maybe Buffalo will look back to the position at next year’s draft. Bond transferred to Texas from Alabama, joining a Longhorns offense down Xavier Worthy, Adonai Mitchell and Ja’Tavion Sanders. That means big opportunity. He can flat-out fly, but he’s still very raw at the position despite 48 catches for 668 yards and four touchdowns last season with the Crimson Tide. If Bond learns to trust his hands more — he tends to trap the ball against his body at times — he could be in for a huge season.


Tyler Booker, G, Alabama*

The Bengals like to attack needs a year in advance, before they become big problems. That could point to interior offensive line, as starting guards Cordell Volson and Alex Cappa are set to become free agents after the 2025 season. At 6-5 and 335 pounds, Booker is a wide-bodied blocker who has strong hands to help him sustain blocks and generate movement on the first level. During his first season as a full-time starter at left guard in 2023, he surrendered four pressures and one sack.


Ashton Gillotte, EDGE, Louisville

The Lions want some pass-rush help opposite Aidan Hutchinson, and if you enjoyed watching Missouri’s Darius Robinson (Cardinals first-rounder) during this past draft cycle, you’ll love Gillotte. His game similarly revolves around power. At 6-3 and 275 pounds, he packs a strong punch, helping him to 13 tackles for loss and 11 sacks last season. But can he expand his pass-rush skill set behind his raw strength?


Landon Jackson, EDGE, Arkansas

At 6-7 and 281 pounds, Jackson fits well with the Ravens. He improved significantly in 2023, posting 15 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. Scouts keep pointing to Arkansas’ game against Alabama last season (10 tackles and 3.5 sacks) to explain his potential, but they want to see him dominate more consistently this season.


Kenneth Grant, DT, Michigan*

Kansas City is really good at developing draft picks on defense, and Grant can make an impact up the middle with spurts of disruption. He can not only clog interior gaps but also quickly penetrate to make plays with his combination of power and quickness out of his stance. Grant had eight run stops and 6.5 tackles for loss last season.


Walter Nolen, DT, Ole Miss*

Nolen is a flash player who transferred to Ole Miss from Texas A&M after four sacks last season. He should have more opportunities to create disruption with the Rebels, which could make him a great pick for the 49ers, who could use reinforcements along their front seven. Part of San Francisco’s identity is being strong and deep in the trenches.

Continue Reading