All odds below courtesy of PointsBet, current as of late Friday afternoon. Mock 3.0 is in reference to results from the three-round mock I published Thursday. Consensus mock ADP data aggregated from 17 industry mock drafts that have been published since March 15. Data credit to my good friend Vegas Refund from Twitter.
Michigan EDGE Aidan Hutchinson | 1.5 | O(+325)/U(-500)
Consensus mock ADP: 1.0
Mock 3.0: 1 (Jaguars)
The play: PASS
In Mock 3.0, my first mock draft since the NFL Combine, I shifted Hutchinson to the 1.1 line. In my pre-Combine mocks, I had Evan Neal in that slot. Jacksonville’s situation has changed since then, as I wrote on Thursday.
“1.) Jacksonville franchised LT Cam Robinson 2.) and signed OG Brandon Scherff, 3.) while EDGE Aidan Hutchinson posted a complete size-adjusted 98th-percentile RAS athletic composite and 4.) OT Evan Neal sat out NFL Combine athletic testing. Hutchinson’s athletic profile erases all doubts. At this point, he has made it extremely difficult to pass on him at the top of the board. What question can you possibly have? Historical season, historical athletic profile, immortal motor. The culture-changer Jacksonville needs exiting the Urban Meyer circus."
All that said, there’s no way I’m advising you to tie up five units for the next month-plus for the possibility of winning just one on the other side. Juice ain’t worth the squeeze -- the NFL Draft prop market is softer than a baby's you-know-what, and we only send our monetary troops out to battle for over a month if the implied odds of them coming back with friends are sufficiently juiced in our favor. The train has left the station on that account in this case. If you have a conviction on a 1.1 long-shot -- banking on a trade-up, perhaps?* -- by all means, wet your beak with a roulette chip. Otherwise, I’m advising to stay out of the 1.1 slot market for now.
*One example of this would be, for instance, buying a 33-to-1 ticket on Malik Willis in the hopes that a team below the Lions (Falcons?) falls in love with him to the degree that they feel compelled to pony-up to hop Detroit. One of my buddies who bought a 100-to-1 ticket on Willis in January is hoping for just that.
LSU CB Derek Stingley Jr. | 12.5 | O(-115)/U(-115)
Consensus mock ADP: 13.7
Mock 3.0: 19 (Eagles)
The play: OVER
Every day, the market comes closer to my way of thinking on Stingley. Back in January, when I tweeted the above, Stingley was consensually being mocked 1.4 to the Jets – Daniel Jeremiah’s mock draft at that time was the exception, not the rule (and I still didn’t think he was going far enough).
The issue with Stingley is we don’t see top-15 picks with his profile... ever. He’s barely played in over a year. He had only one good season out of three in college. That season came three years ago, as a true freshman. Stingley was bad as a sophomore. This past year, he missed most of his junior campaign with a Lisfranc injury, a torn ligament in his left foot. That injury has also prevented his pre-draft process from starting.
The one thing you could point to in order to assuage your concern about what's transpired over the past two years was Stingley’s (projected) premier athletic profile. Now you can no longer hang your hat on that. It's unclear if he'll come back the same athlete. It's unclear if he'll be a durability concern going forward.
This line has been set at 12.5, a nod at the cornerback-desperate Vikings, who sit at 1.12. This is the last stop for under bettors. So let's investigate the fit a bit closer.
The new 3-4 defense that DC Ed Donatell has installed doesn’t require freak physical specimens at cornerback. The scheme does some of the work for the secondary, naturally disguising coverages, and asks its corners to play assignment football on every single down -- no coverage breakdowns.
Here’s how Zone Coverage’s Luke Braun describes it: “[W]e have the illusion of complexity. To an offense, it is constantly shifting, dynamic, and multiple. You never know who is blitzing, who is covering, or which player to key on. To the defense, it’s a simple handful of coverages, and your job within those coverages can vary. So long as you can memorize that, you can play in a Fangio-style defense like Donatell’s.”
Depending on which stat service you trust, the 2021 Broncos finished either with the NFL’s second-most or fourth-most Cover 1 snaps, ie “man-to-man coverage.” The Broncos also led the league in Cover 6, which takes more coverage resources from the middle of the field and devotes them to the sideline so that, for instance, you can man-up against trips, or double-team a designated receiver.
So Donatell is looking for high football IQ cover corners (his former team, the Broncos, took one of the smartest football IQ man-coverage corners to enter the NFL in the past decade, Patrick Surtain, last April... Surtain is not unathletic by any means, but he's not a freak -- his forty was in the 79th-percentile and he ducked the agility drills).
Who does this sound like a better fit for? The rock-solid, assignment-oriented Trent McDuffie -- Stingley's closest-presumed competition for the CB2 designation -- who allowed a 16-111-0 receiving line on 36 targets last season for Washington? Or Stingley, who was apart of several communication breakdowns in LSU’s secondary in 2020, who was tagged with a 15-201–2 receiving line against on 33 targets over the past two seasons, who hasn’t played good football since 2019, who we haven't seen move yet off a Lisfranc injury, and who has mentioned for years now that his dream is actually to play receiver?
Who are you going to trust on 3rd-and-6 to match a pattern in one-on-one coverage with a four-point lead and under two minutes to go? McDuffie is well-built, he ran a 4.44, he's smart, and he shut down the Pac-12 for years. His scarlet letter of 29.75" arms isn't scarier than Stingley's Lisfranc injury, and he's got Stingley in almost every metric that doesn't require a ruler. To bet the Stingley under, you need to have a conviction that the Vikings will take a corner in Round 1 (plausible), and that they'll prefer Stingley to McDuffie (not as plausible).
Let me repeat: I do not believe Stingley is going in the top-15. I feel stronger about that now than I did in January. We didn't know about the Lisfranc back then.
NC State OL Ikem Ekwonu | 3.5 | O(+110)/U(-140)
Consensus mock ADP: 4.2
Mock 3.0: 5 (Giants)
The play: OVER
To go under, Ekwonu must go in the top-3, picks currently owned by the Jaguars, Lions, and Texans. I just don’t see this as super realistic. As the board sits now, anyway.
First off, as discussed above, Hutchinson is justly the prohibitive favorite to go 1.1, so scratch that slot out. Ekwonu must go 1.2 or 1.3 for UNDER to cash. But the Lions just drafted OT Penei Sewell at 1.7 last year, and have Taylor Decker on a $60 million deal across from him. And, just in general, Detroit has far more pressing roster needs than offensive line. It would be a major upset if the Lions took either Evan Neal or Ekwonu.
As for Houston, LT Laremy Tunsil is one of their few remaining assets, and he's sticking around in 2022. Despite that, the Texans are in play for an offensive lineman potentially -- betting the Ekwonu under right now is essentially saying "I think Ekwonu will be taken by the Texans."
But if the Texans are going to take an offensive lineman, eschewing bigger roster needs, why Ekwonu over Evan Neal? Neal is a cleaner short-term fit at right tackle, and he's also a cleaner long-term fit at left tackle. Why does that matter? Because the Texans can plug him in immediately at right tackle and use Tunsil as trade bait next offseason* if Neal plays well enough to justify a conversion to left tackle.
*(Next offseason would be a good time to deal Tunsil. Because of the 2020 waived COVID eligibility year by the NCAA, the 2021 class was cleaved by two-thirds in overall declared prospects; that had the effect of making the 2022 class a bit bigger than usual, a manifestation you'll see in the next two classes as well. The next two won't be short on quarterbacks like this one is, though -- meaning picks should be even more valuable. Because of the Deshaun Watson trade, in the 2023 draft Houston already has two first-rounders, a second, and two thirds.).
I like Ekwonu a lot, and I’m pretty bullish on him going high – but top-3? That appears to be a longshot outcome in a world where Aidan Hutchinson goes 1.1.
Oregon EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux | 5.5 | O(-150)/U(+115)
Consensus mock ADP: 6.6
Mock 3.0: 8 (Falcons)
The play: OVER
If a draftnik fell into coma in October and just woke up, they’d do a spit take at this number. Unfortunately for Thibodeaux, the pessimistic steam is very real, as I wrote Thursday:
“...Thibodeaux, once the presumed No. 1 overall pick, now likely to fall outside of the top-5… is being affected by the confluence of two things, both outside of his control (one of which may be complete malarky): 1. Rumors of his “lack of fire”, 2. The ascendance of Travon Walker, who has in essence stolen Thibodeaux’s spot in the pecking order. … [B]ecause of the stacked nature of this edge class, premium edge rushers were always going to be available at a discount, for one reason or another – Thibs may be the first, and his discount may be for the most specious reason, but he won’t be the last.”
Unfortunately, it’s going to be difficult for Thibodeaux to do anything about his Travon Walker problem. Because even though Thibodeaux has an April 1 pro day workout to flesh out his testing profile (Thibs ran a sizzling 4.58 forty at 6’4/254 in Indianapolis but sat out the rest of the tests and drills), it’s not possible for him to match Walker’s historic athletic composite.
Thibs’ pro day, however, will give him a shot to get more face time with scouts, coaches and decision-makers… a golden opportunity to dispel false narratives that have cropped up in the media about his desire. His best opportunity to go under this number would be going 1.5 to the Giants.
But if Thibs ends up a Giant, it would appear the 1.7 slot is a far more realistic option. You’d figure the offensive-line desperate Giants’ prerogative would be to take a tackle 1.5 while deferring defender to 1.7. Not only do the Giants need offensive line help more, but that position group dries up far faster than edge rusher, the deepest position in this class.
Notre Dame S Kyle Hamilton | 6.5 | O(-105)/U(-125)
Consensus mock ADP: 5.4
Mock 3.0: 7 (Giants)
The play: PASS
This one’s just too close to call at the moment. In my first two mocks, I had Hamilton going to the New York Jets at 1.4. But following Travon Walker’s incredible gamut of tests – Walker’s size-adjusted athletic composite ranked No. 3 out of 1,428 defensive ends entering the NFL in the RAS system since 1987 – we’ve seen a small handful of media folks plugged-in with the Jets linking Walker to the organization at 1.4.
Detroit and Houston would figure to have too many roster holes to justify taking a safety – even a safety this good – in the top-3. If both pass, and the Jets indeed take an edge rusher (Walker or Thibodeaux), now the Giants are on the clock… and we’re back to the discussion above.
Even if the Giants are gaga with Hamilton, they can be reasonably sure that Carolina ain’t gonna take him at 1.6. Safety is one of the positions the Panthers don’t need immediate help at, and Matt Rhule needs immediate help to keep his job like you and I need oxygen to keep living.
In Mock 3.0, I had the Giants taking Ikem Ekwonu at 1.5 and Hamilton at 1.7. That's over, by the hair of the chin. The margins are short, here -- this number is sharper than Dollar Shave Club. The math could change quickly with a trade involving a top-six pick. Or, for instance, if two tackles get taken in the top-four. Just too many variables to tie up capital in a futures bet.
ORDER OF CONFIDENCE*
*(based on projected ROI, not chances of occurrence)