On paper, this year’s NFL Draft seems immensely predictable.

The three teams at the top of the draft board are all in desperate need of a quarterback, and there are three projected prospects just waiting to hear their name called.

After the quarterbacks have fallen, the board is left with three dynamic wide receivers, all thought to be true difference makers. While the Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Chargers, and New York Giants all have a specific need for their rosters – a dynamic, difference making, wide receiver.

The assumption is that the rest of the top half of the draft is filled with a couple of defensive backs, an edge rusher, and a bunch of offensive linemen. Because every team needs more offensive linemen.

So why all the smoke?

The New England Patriots are willing to trade out of the third spot, content with Jacoby Brissett? Pack another bowl, dude.

The Minnesota Vikings are willing to give up multiple first round draft picks for JJ McCarthy? Are you high?

The New York Giants’ plan is to get rid of Saquon Barkley, pass on the wide receiver they’ve lacked since Odell Beckham Jr., disregard the $40 million they owe Daniel Jones, and replace all that with the fourth best QB in the draft? Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

And how convenient is it that Jim Harbaugh has called JJ McCarthy the best quarterback in the draft as Harbaugh’s Chargers sit in the perfect position to be a trade partner with if a team is looking to move up? McCarthy may be decent, but Harbaugh is blowing a little smoke up someone’s…

You get the point.

For the Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos, and Las Vegas Raiders, the JJ McCarthy rumors are more than just smoke. And the question remains, which team is ready to mortgage their future – for the fourth best quarterback in the draft.

A look at the top 13 picks – and the player they will select in this year’s NFL Draft.

Credit via 247 Sports

1) Chicago Bears – Caleb Williams (QB – USC) – Williams is the pick for the Bears as the consensus first player off the board in virtually every mock draft. It may be premature to say that Williams will be the best Chicago Bears quarterback ever – but considering Kyle Orton is in their top five, the bar is low.

2) Washington Commanders – Jayden Daniels (QB – LSU) – Teams have been calling the Commanders to try and persuade them to move down, but when Marcus Mariota is your contingency plan at quarterback, you’re taking Daniels.

3) New England Patriots – Drake Maye (QB – UNC) – The first sign that the Bill Belichick era is officially over is that the Patriots are taking the obvious choice with their third overall pick. New England has a lot of needs to fill, but Maye is too good to pass up.

Credit via Wikipedia

4) Arizona Cardinals – Marvin Harrison Jr. (WR – Ohio State) – The Cardinals are in a great spot to negotiate if teams are willing to overpay for JJ McCarthy or move up for Harrison. But unless it’s a trade with the New York Giants, in which they would still be in position to get a top receiver in return, Arizona is keeping this pick.

5) Los Angeles Chargers – Malik Nabers (WR – LSU) – Jim Harbaugh would love to move down and still get a top offensive lineman, but only Minnesota makes sense in that scenario as the Broncos and Raiders are division rivals. And that’s too far down as Joe Alt, JC Lathum, and Troy Fautanu will be gone. Nabers will provide a must-needed weapon for Justin Herbert now that Mike Williams and Keenan Allen are gone.

6) New York Giants – Rome Odunze (WR – Washington) – While the depth of this year’s receiver group is good, the top three have really separated from the bunch. Daniel Jones is probably not the answer at quarterback for the Giants, but how do you know when Darius Slayton is your go-to-guy?

Credit via Bleacher Report

7) Tennessee Titans – Joe Alt (OT – Notre Dame) – The Titans are in a good place to move down if teams are looking for JJ McCarthy or the best player left at any position. But everyone knows that Tennessee is taking an offensive lineman, and Joe Alt is an athletic freak at 6’8 and 320 pounds.

8) Minnesota Vikings (via trade with Atlanta) – JJ McCarthy (QB – Michigan) – The Vikings may have been the only team in their own JJ McCarthy bidding war as the Denver Broncos have no draft capital to move up, and the Las Vegas Raiders prefer Michael Penix Jr. But the move from 11 to 8 was affordable enough to secure their man.

9) Chicago Bears – JC Lathum (OT – Alabama) – If Odunze falls to this spot, the Bears won’t be able to control themselves. But an offensive tackle from Alabama to protect your franchise quarterback seems more than reasonable.

10) New York Jets – Troy Fautanu (OT/Washington) – Lots of talk about tight end Brock Bowers landing here, but the Jets need to give Aaron Rodgers as much protection as possible.

11) Atlanta Falcons – Dallas Turner (Edge – Alabama) – The Falcons look like geniuses as they maneuver to get the player they want, while acquiring additional draft picks in the process.

Credit via Bleacher Report

12) Denver Broncos – Terrion Arnold (DB/Alabama) – The Broncos would have taken JJ McCarthy if he fell to this spot, but with so many needs and the hope that Bo Nix will be available in the third round, Denver takes the best available.

13) Las Vegas Raiders – Quinyou Mitchell (DB/Toledo) – The Raiders think about taking Micheal Penix Jr. at this spot, but with two torn ACLs and two shoulder surgeries, they’ll take their chances on him being available in round two.

Images via Wikipedia, bleacherreport, 247sports

Alan Tapley is an educator, author, and blogger who has lived just outside of Boulder for the last twenty years.  His published work includes two novels, two children’s books, a series of cartoons in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and multiple sports related articles. His love for family and the state of Colorado is only matched by one thing, his passion for sports.  The first baseball game he ever attended was at Wrigley Field, before there were lights.  At the final Bronco game at the old Mile High, he allegedly cut out a piece of his seat in the South stands.  But regardless of being here for the Avalanche’s last Stanley Cup, the Rockies only World Series appearance, and all the Broncos’ Super Bowl Victories, his wife never fails to remind him that he wasn’t at the University of Colorado in 1990, like she was.  The year the Buffs football team won the National Championship