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Gaffney's Way Too Early 2025 NFL Mock Draft

Even as we're about 50 weeks out, it's never a bad idea to take an early peak under the hood at a future draft class. In 2025, there's some real-deal talent on the defensive line of scrimmage out of the SEC, cornerback, and then a few excellent receivers, all of whom fit a different mold. So, here's what next year's NFL Draft would look like right now.


Notes:

- Draft Order determined by DraftKings' Super Bowl Odds as of April 30th.

- Picks based on projected free agent losses for each team, team needs, etc.


Pick 1) Carolina Panthers - James Pearce Jr., EDGE (Tennessee)

It's hard to say how much stock should be put into consensus draft stuff a year out, but James Pearce Jr. is the widespread top guy in the 2025 draft as of today. Just breezing through a pair of games from 2023 (Alabama and Virginia), I thought he struggled a ton working against the No. 7 pick in this year's draft, J.C. Latham, but he explodes off the snap and has a pretty solid bag of pass rush moves at just 20 years old. The fact he's 6'5" and about 240 helps out as well. Pearce or not, Carolina needs a long-term answer off the edge, no matter what. It's worth mentioning that he was arrested late last year for driving with a suspended license and speeding, but his case was dismissed about a week later after he provided proof of a licNotly not great, but hopefully, that's all in the past because it's hard not to see his upside as a pass rush talent.


Pick 2) New England Patriots - Will Johnson, CB (Michigan)

Depending on how the two Patriots receivers they drafted turn out after year one, I could envision them passing on either Luther Burden or Tetairoa McMillan. Jonathan Jones, who as of now is the Patriots' second outside starter at cornerback, is on an expiring contract, and I think the idea of them trying to get another elite prospect opposite of Christian Gonzalez is too good to pass up. I'd say there are three corners in the mix for the top honors in this next draft as of now, but Will Johnson has a lot to like with his athletic and physical profile. The Detroit native racked up First-Team (Consensus) All-American and Big10 honors and won Defensive MVP in the Wolverines National Title win.


Pick 3) Tennessee Titans - Luther Burden II, WR (Mizzou)

The Titans, essentially swapping out Nuk Hopkins for Luther Burder, would/should be on the table if they find themselves in this spot next year. Not the tallest target at 5'11", but Burden is a menace in space, and Mizzou got him touches in a variety of ways in 2023. From the limited stuff I've seen, think Ja'Marr Chase, from a speed and size standpoint, but if he was used like Deebo Samuel.


Pick 4) Denver Broncos - Kelvin Banks, OT (Texas)

I don't see Garrett Boles getting another contract with the Broncos at this point in his career, especially since Quinn Meinerz, Johnathon Cooper, Barron Browning, and Javonte Wiliams are up at the end of the year, and even more so with his injury history. Kelvin Banks is a more than battle-tested left tackle, going up against some elite, elite pass rushing names over the last two years, and should be one of the top tackles in 2025 no matter what.


Pick 5) Las Vegas Raiders - Shedeur Sanders, QB (Colorado)

I think it's fair to be skeptical of Sanders, given some of the recent developments coming out of Colorado, but he's not going to be around Deion forever, and he has a ton of talent as a quarterback, specifically an excellently good pocket passer at this stage of his development. Also, while he doesn't have Caleb Williams/Drake Maye caliber arm talent, but he has more than enough to push the ball downfield consistently. Getting Sanders in an environment with a great locker room like Vegas is probably the best timing for him moving forward.


Pick 6) New York Giants - Carson Beck, QB (Georgia)

Striking out on Drake Maye just days ago, expect the Giants to cut bait with Daniel Jones after 2024, barring a drastic improvement on his 2022 season, let alone 2023. I saw some of Carson Beck on film when I scouted Brock Bowers, and I was mostly impressed. If he can have a good year again with a new-look Georgia offense, it wouldn't stun me if he becomes the consensus QB1.


Pick 7) Arizona Cardinals - Mason Graham, IDL (Michigan)

After losing J.J. Watt and Zach Allen in one offseason after 2022, putting a big-time interior threat like Mason Graham with Darius Robinson and BJ Ojulari off the edge might be the final piece to getting the Cardinals' D-Line back on track. He has front and technique versatility, moves very well for a 315-pounder, and can run stunts at a high level from the inside. With some key pieces up front for Michigan now gone, namely Kris Jenkins, Graham is set to build on a monster 2023 season. He'd be a hell of a get for Monti Ossenfort.


Pick 8) Washington Commanders - Will Campbell, OT (LSU)

Depending on what the plan for Brandon Coleman is, the Commanders could look to upgrade at both tackle spots next season, and their best option available would be LSU's Will Campbell, Jayden Daniels' left tackle from 2023. His combination of size and athleticism should transition to the NFL really well, and assuming he shows improvement as a pass protector, he should be a top-10 lock next spring.


Pick 9) Minnesota Vikings - Travis Hunter, CB/WR (Colorado)

I loved the Vikings taking a chance on Khyree Jackson in this year's draft, but there's still work to be done in Minnesota as far as cornerbacks go. I imagine most people are already familiar with Travis Hunter, a true triple-threat player with high-leverage D1 snaps as a boundary corner, wideout, and kick returner. His best position is cornerback, and putting a guy with his ability and knack for the ball with Brian Flores has horrifying upside.


Pick 10) New Orleans Saints - Abdul Carter, EDGE/LB (Penn State)

While the Saints got some good players in this year's draft, they did nothing to address the impending edge rush issue they will most certainly have after the 2024 season. Cam Jordan isn't exactly a kid anymore, and only the Cardinals, Bears, and Panthers had less in 2023. Penn State's Abdul Carter has had a similar trajectory as Micah Parsons in Happy Valley, becoming more of a pure edge rusher than a linebacker. Now, he's for a significantly increased role in 2024. Much like Parsons, though, he has some character concerns, allegedly getting into a physical confrontation with a tow truck driver, resulting in a misdemeanor assault charge.


Pick 11) Seattle Seahawks - Malaki Starks, SAF (Georgia)

Mike MacDonald may be content with letting Julian Love hit the open market at the end of the year and finding his replacement in the form of Malaki Starks. Just taking a quick peak at what he's capable of, he's a monster at the catch point and around the ball in general and does everything asked of him. He'd be one hell of a chess piece for MikeMac, that's for sure.


Pick 12) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Harold Perkins, LB (LSU)

Now 34 years old, LaVonte David isn't exactly a given to continue his fantastic career beyond this season, and it just so happens the Buccaneers hit the LSU linebacker well once again to either find him a running mate or successor. Perkins has legitimate "do it all" potential as a professional, with great sideline-to-sideline range to be a pass-defending, run-defending, and even pass-rushing threat. Some teams could be turned off by his size profile (6'1" and 220 lbs), but he's been a proven playmaker against the best college football has to offer.


Pick 13) Indianapolis Colts - Deon Walker, IDL (Kentucky)

Chris Ballard needs him some traits guys like he needs air to breathe, and in 2025, he should love a guy like Deon Walker out of BBN. 6'6" 350 lb interior defenders aren't exactly a dime a dozen, and with Grover Stewart now over 30 and with an out in his deal in the spring of 2026, getting his successor in the building a year early as a rotation piece would be ideal. Walker meanwhile hopes to build on a pair of All-SEC Second-Team selections this year.


Pick 14) Pittsburgh Steelers - Mykell Williams, IDL/EDGE (Georgia)

In Yinzer Land, Cameron Heyward isn't exactly young himself anymore, and if this was his last rodeo, that should shock no one. Mykell Williams, who was named the best defensive high school player in America back in 2022, as a replacement option would be more than ideal with his elite-size profile and ability to line up on the edge or inside. He was also a member of the 2023 All-SEC Second Team.


Pick 15) Jacksonville Jaguars - Benjamin Morrison, CB (Notre Dame)

Regardless of whether Tyson Campbell factors into the Jags' long-term plans or not, they could certainly use another body at the corner in any case. Morrisson should be in the conversation for CB1 by the sounds of things, and while he doesn't have the size profile that Will Johnson does, but he competes his ass off all the way to the whistle. I was very impressed watching him live against Ohio State last year; he had some really good reps on Marvin Harrison Jr.


Pick 16) Cleveland Browns - Tetairoa McMillan, WR (Arizona)

Receivers that stand 6'5" are another one of those archetypes that don't come by often, and Tet McMillan would be a great addition to a Browns team that may be losing Amari Cooper at season's end. His production skyrocketed in 2023, putting up over 1400 yards on 90 catches and 10 scores for the Wildcats, and he could conceivably overtake Luther Burder as WR1 with another strong outing. His true X ability doesn't hurt him any, either.


Pick 17) Los Angeles Rams - Quinn Ewers, QB (Texas)

Next year feels like the right time to figure out the Rams' long-term plans at signal caller because Matt Stafford will only play for so long, and they don't have the answer in-house. Ewers would be their best bet with Sanders and Beck gone. Opting to return to Texas for another year was absolutely in his best interest, given how top-heavy the 2024 class was at QB, but this pick is a bit of projecting on my end. Ewers has to be better this year in terms of decision-making, but he has a lot of good traits and the opportunity to produce with his two best receivers, running back and tight end, now all in the NFL.


Pick 18) Chicago Bears - Tyler Booker, IOL (Alabama)

Should the Bears allow Tevin Jenkins to hit the open market, guard becomes the biggest need on the Bears roster. Tyler Booker was impressive in his first year as a full-time starter at left guard for the Tide, and I wouldn't be surprised if he does the same, if not better, in 2024. Also, a fun fact: Booker was IMG's top-ranked high school recruit who played against Bishop Sycamore in 2020.


Pick 19) Los Angeles Chargers - Colston Loveland, TE (Michigan)

Jim Harbaugh didn't take as many Michigan guys as I expected in this year's draft, but getting a guy like Colston Loveland, who'd be an instant upgrade over what they have currently at tight end, would be one hell of a way to kick off 2025. He's an excellent move tight end with an unreal catch radius and the ability to create after the catch, to boot.


Pick 20) Atlanta Falcons - Nick Scourton, EDGE (Texas A&M)

Your guess would be as good as mine with the Falcons here, but they still need help off the edge, and Nick Scourton is one of the most important names to keep tabs on for 2025. A transfer out of Purdue, he put up 10 sacks in 2023 and weighs in at 280 lbs while standing at 6'4". Looking at some highlights, though, he moves like someone who's 30-40 lbs lighter, which is a horrifying thought.


Pick 21) Miami Dolphins - Emeka Egbuka, WR (Ohio State)

OBJ isn't a long-term answer for the Fins at receiver, and assuming you can take him at his word (I don't), Tyreek Hill will call it a career once his current deal expires. A long-term plan with Jaylen Waddle and Emeka Egbuka at reciever would be ideal. The Ohio State product was slotted around this range for the 2024 draft, but he opted to stick at school for one more year.


Pick 22) New York Jets - Riley Leonard, QB (Notre Dame)

There are lots of volatile pieces in that Jets QB room, and after this year, I wouldn't be entirely stunned if Aaron Rodgers retires, which would then leave you with Tyrod Taylor, who's had some brutal luck with injuries, and Jordan Travis, who's coming off a brutal leg injury himself. Duke transfer Riley Leonard also opted to stay in the college ranks for one more year and will do so in South Bend, Indiana. Should things go well, he's probably a lock for round one. He has legitimate dual-threat upside that'll translate, most likely.


Pick 23) Green Bay Packers - Tacario Davis, CB (Arizona)

Tet McMillan isn't the only giant on the boundary that Arizona may send into the '25 draft because they also have 6'4" corner Tacario Davis on the opposite side of the ball. You won't find guys like him often, and with his unique build and a chance to work in a Jeff Hafley scheme with some outgoing corners, this would be a hell of a pick for the Packers.


Pick 24) Dallas Cowboys - Isaiah Bond, WR (Texas)

Texas got AD Mitchell as a one-year transfer from Georgia last year; this year, they're getting Isaiah Bond for a year, previously out of Alabama. He's a well-rounded receiver with inside-outside ability, the speed to take the top off a defense, and elite ball tracking and catch ability. Should Dallas lose one or both of CeeDee Lamb or Brandin Cooks after this year, Bond would be a perfect fill-in for a new-look Cowboys offense.


Pick 25) Philadelphia Eagles - Emory Jones Jr., OT (LSU)

Lane Johnson turns 34 in 48 hours, and I doubt Mekhi Becton is a long-term answer for the Eagles at right tackle. A 24-game starter for the LSU Tigers at right tackle, Emory Jones Jr., has elite size and maneuverability for a 6'6" tackle. I could think of worse succession plans for Howie Roseman and Philly.


Pick 26) Houston Texans - Evan Stewart, WR (Oregon)

Stefon Diggs appears to be a one-year rental for Houston, and then they also have Noah Brown and Robert Woods on expiring contracts. Granted, I don't think they would've traded for Diggs if they didn't think they could've used an extra body out wide, so why not keep that philosophy moving forward? Evan Stewart exploded onto the college scene as a true freshman at A&M with his big play ability and sensational fight for the football in all situations. He will be a guy to watch all year long in Oregon.


Pick 27) Cincinnati Bengals - Patrick Payton, EDGE (Florida St.)

There are lots of notable free agents next year for the Bengals, but none may be more crucial than Trey Hendrickson, who's coming off a 17.5 season and demanded a trade just weeks ago. Needless to say, I don't expect him back in 2025, and even this year is questionable. Subbing in Patrick Payton, a certified baller at the line of scrimmage (12.5 TFLs and six sacks in 2023). He's a bit on the lighter side as far as edge rushers go, but he holds up well against the run and rushing the passer.


Pick 28) Buffalo Bills - J.T. Tuimoloau, EDGE (Ohio St.)

Long story short, the Bills can get out of Von Miller's deal after next year, and there's no way they won't do just that. J.T. Tuimoloau isn't in the Miller mold of pass rusher, playing at 270 lbs, but he's never had more than five sacks in a season. Regardless, his upside is there; it's just a matter of putting it all together, and he'll have that chance as a senior this fall.


Pick 29) Detroit Lions - Josh Simmons, OT (Ohio St.)

Everything from a roster construction standpoint for the Lions moving forward will be about re-upping Jared Goff for about the next year, which could lead to Taylor Decker hitting the open market and getting one last bag elsewhere. In the event that happens, the Lions would have some options, including Ohio State's Josh Simmons. A transfer from San Diego State, he's a little undersized, but he has fans in Columbus and got better through 2023.


Pick 30) Baltimore Ravens - Josh Conerly Jr., OT (Oregon)

Ronnie Stanley's health woes have been well documented throughout his career, never playing more than 15 games in a season. With his deal up at the end of the year, I would not be stunned to see the Ravens find his replacement through the draft and have whoever that may be and Roger Rosengarten hold down the tackle fort moving forward. Take Josh Conerly out of Oregon, for instance. He's a bit undersized at 6'4" but doesn't have a ton of mechanical/technical flaws to speak of.


Pick 31) San Francisco 49ers - Barrett Carter, LB (Clemson)

The 9ers going linebacker with Dre Greenlaw in a contract year (not even factoring in his injury) would be one of the least surprising things to happen next year. Barrett Carter is a bona fide downhill thumper with great tackling instincts that would make him a fit just about anywhere in the league.


Pick 32) Kansas City Chiefs - Princely Umanmielen, EDGE (Ole Miss)

This would be a scary dude to put in a Spags defense. Princely Umanmielen would be quite the chess piece to move around a front that already has Chris Jones and George Karlaftis. He's 6'5" and 250 lbs, but he can fly in his highest gear and has a deadly spin move. I wouldn't be stunned if he heavily outplays the very early projection with his kind of traits and ability.



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