No. 12: Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Cam Ward, QB, Washington State
Cam Ward is the quarterback I would select if Caleb Williams and Drake Maye are unavailable. But this isn’t a “what would Hunter Haas do” mock draft. Instead, Ward becomes the SIXTH signal-caller taken in this NFL mock draft.
The Buccaneers have gotten impressive play out of Baker Mayfield thus far. But it would be ill-advised to pass on a higher-upside player, even if Mayfield sticks around as the placeholder for another season or two. Ward has the dual-threat and improvisation abilities to be a difference-maker at the next level.
No. 13: New England Patriots — Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame
This is what happens when quarterbacks fly off the board early. The Patriots, as they so frequently do, get a phenomenal value at No. 13 in this mock draft. Joe Alt comes from the highly-heralded Notre Dame pipeline, flexing franchise offensive tackle size and skills. New England needs his polished technique; it doesn’t matter which side of the line he plays.
Colts Snag The Top Cornerback At No. 14 Overall In This Mock Draft
No. 14: Indianapolis Colts — Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama
Another top player falls further than he should, allowing the Indianapolis Colts to scoop up a partner-in-crime for 2023 second-round pick JuJu Brents. Kool-Aid McKinstry excels in press coverage but has the traits to hold up in any scheme. Gus Bradley prefers zone coverage in Indy, but don’t be surprised if McKinstry and Brents allow the long-time coordinator to become more aggressive in his play calling.
No. 15: Los Angeles Chargers — Kalen King, CB, Penn State
Kalen King is the second-straight Penn State cornerback to fetch a Day 1 grade on my Big Board. King is as competitive as it gets, a trait necessary to hold up in the NFL vs. the elite of the elite at wide receiver. The Chargers are allowing 29 points per game and must clean up the defense.
No. 16: New Orleans Saints — Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State
Keon Coleman has risen up draft boards after a spectacular start to his Florida State career. The former Michigan State Spartan looks the part of an NFL WR1, including otherworldly athleticism and strength at the catch point. Value supersedes need at No. 16 in this mock draft.
No. 17: Pittsburgh Steelers — J.C. Latham, OL, Alabama
The Steelers have improved mightily, at least on paper, when it comes to the offensive line. Broderick Jones will be a mainstay on one side of the line, but I believe Pittsburgh should consider drafting a bookend to the unit. J.C. Latham profiles best as a right tackle, which allows Jones to stick at his more natural position — the blindside.