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With the 7th pick in the RJ’s final NFL mock draft, the Raiders select …

Updated April 26, 2023 - 7:35 pm

The speculation, the lying, the smoke screens and the wild rumors are almost over.

The NFL draft will finally take place this week, with the first round Thursday in Kansas City, Missouri.

It seems as if the information leaking from front offices and league sources this year is more conflicting than ever, as there is almost no certainty after the first pick.

So expect the unexpected. There’s a strong feeling that mock drafts are going to be more inaccurate than ever, a sentiment that has been shared by several sources within the league.

This one will be no different. While in the past several years we have been pretty confident with some of our projections, that’s not the case now.

Things could get wild this year, starting with the No. 2 pick. The Texans probably should take quarterback C.J. Stroud, but reports have surfaced they will not. If that indeed does happen, chaos could ensue.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean a lot of trades. Keep in mind that no team has traded into the top 9 on draft day since 2018. That means teams desperate to trade down aren’t as likely to find a partner.

So here are the wild guesses with our fourth and final mock draft, with a reminder that there are 31 picks because the Dolphins forfeited their first-round selection. A player’s draft position in our previous mock is indicated in parentheses:

1. Carolina Panthers

(From Chicago Bears)

Bryce Young, QB, Alabama (1) — There were weird rumors about Will Levis going in this spot that were started by a Reddit user with only one previous post. That’s the point we’ve reached, but the Panthers appear set on Young.

2. Houston Texans

Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech (5) — It’s surprising to think the Texans aren’t taking a quarterback, and it’s possible they defy all the reports and go in that direction. Wilson isn’t the best defensive player right now, but the Texans could bank on him living up to his massive upside.

3. Arizona Cardinals

Will Anderson Jr., Edge, Alabama (3) — The Cardinals want to trade out of this pick. But if there’s no takers, they might do cartwheels to see the Texans pass on Anderson, who could be the most complete defensive player in the draft.

4. Indianapolis Colts

Will Levis, QB, Kentucky (12) — There are reasons to be concerned about Levis as a prospect, and the thought of Anthony Richardson in a Shane Steichen offense is downright scary. There’s just so much Levis buzz at the moment.

5. Seattle Seahawks

(From Denver Broncos)

C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State (2) — The Seahawks don’t have to take a quarterback, and the plan probably is to take a defensive playmaker. Stroud still being on the board could quickly change that plan.

6. Detroit Lions

(From Los Angeles Rams)

Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia (4) — Carter is the draft’s most fascinating storyline. Will teams fall in love with his dominant tape or shy away from the off-field questions? The opportunity to pair him with Aidan Hutchinson is too tempting for the Lions.

7. Raiders

Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois (7) — There could be interest in Stroud if he’s still there, and Richardson could be a good fit because he wouldn’t have to play immediately. But the defense needs an influx of talent, and Witherspoon has been the choice in this space all along.

8. Atlanta Falcons

Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia (18) — There’s talk of the Falcons taking Bijan Robinson. But they have too many needs to take a running back here, so they stay local with a talented player at a more premium position.

9. Chicago Bears

(From Carolina Panthers)

Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State (11) — The Bears have committed to the development of Justin Fields and added talent around him. Now it’s time to get him some protection.

10. Philadelphia Eagles

(From New Orleans Saints)

Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas (23) — Unlike the Falcons, the Eagles, with a loaded roster and another first-round pick, have the luxury of taking a running back in the first round. This pick is assuming they don’t trade for Derrick Henry.

11. Tennessee Titans

Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida (6) — The Titans need a quarterback of the future, and Malik Willis doesn’t appear to be the answer. The sky is the limit for Richardson, but he needs work on his accuracy.

12. Houston Texans

(From Cleveland Browns)

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State (16) — If the Texans leave the first round without a quarterback, they can at least start to stockpile playmakers for whoever ends up playing the position. Smith-Njigba has emerged as the odds-on favorite to be the first receiver off the board.

13. Green Bay Packers

(From New York Jets)

Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah (15) — The Packers moved up two spots as part of the deal to trade Aaron Rodgers to the Jets. They use the pick to snag a security blanket for new starting quarterback Jordan Love. Kincaid, who played at Faith Lutheran High, gives Green Bay a legitimate receiving threat who can line up just about anywhere.

14. New England Patriots

Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern (9) — Skoronski could give the Patriots a versatile piece who can be used at either tackle or guard and immediately help rebuild the offensive line.

15. New York Jets

(From Green Bay Packers)

Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee (17) — Now that the Rodgers deal is done, the Jets can work on making sure he has enough time to throw. Wright didn’t emerge as a pro prospect until this year, and his tape against Will Anderson caught the attention of teams.

16. Washington Commanders

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (10) — This is a dream scenario for the Commanders. Gonzalez falls to them, and they run the pick to the podium to lock up the long and talented cornerback.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers

Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia (13) — The Steelers pass on cornerback Joey Porter Jr., the son of one of the franchise’s legends, to shore up the offensive line.

18. Detroit Lions

Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State (14) — The Lions gave up on former first-rounder Jeff Okudah in the offseason. Despite signing several veterans in the secondary, they need long-term answers.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma (ND) — The Buccaneers have work to do after going all-in the past few seasons with Tom Brady at quarterback. It will start on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

20. Seattle Seahawks

Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh (24) — The Seahawks need help on the defensive front and could address it with the first of their two first-round picks. But because they went for a quarterback in this exercise, they take a shot here with an explosive interior athlete.

21. Los Angeles Chargers

Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame (26) — Mayer gives Justin Herbert a reliable target who could build a long-term relationship between quarterback and tight end like a certain AFC West opponent.

22. Baltimore Ravens

Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson (19) — Cornerback is a bigger need for the Ravens, but they tend to stick with a best player available philosophy. That would be Murphy.

23. Minnesota Vikings

Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee (22) — Kirk Cousins is still the starter, but for how long? This would be a great landing spot for Hooker, who is recovering from a torn ACL.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars

Deonte Banks, CB, Maryalnd (20) — Banks was impressive at the combine and is the type of defensive back generally preferred by general manager Trent Baalke. Jacksonville could use depth at cornerback.

25. New York Giants

Jordan Addison, WR, Southern California (21) — The Giants would love the draft to play out this way, with only one wide receiver off the board. Perhaps the toughest part would be choosing which receiver to take.

26. Dallas Cowboys

Lukas Van Ness, Edge, Iowa (8) — It would be surprising to still see him on the board, but opinions seem to vary. There appears to be a consensus that Van Ness is capable of far more than he produced in college and could go in the top 10.

27. Buffalo Bills

O’Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida (27) — This has been one of the most consistent selections in our mock drafts. He’s the best player at an area of immediate need for a team with a closing championship window.

28. Cincinnati Bengals

Brian Branch, DB, Alabama (28) — The Bengals would almost certainly grab Kincaid or Mayer if either is still on the board. Instead, they draft the versatile Branch after losing some key players in the secondary.

29. New Orleans Saints

(From San Francisco 49ers via Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos)

Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson (29) — The Saints tried to plug some holes on the defensive line in the offseason, but still have plenty of work to do. Bresee gives them someone who can contribute immediately.

30. Philadelphia Eagles

Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College (ND) — The Eagles don’t need a wide receiver and used a first-round pick on an offensive skill player, but Flowers could make this offense downright scary.

31. Kansas City Chiefs

Quentin Johnston, WR, Texas Christian (25) — There are concerns about Johnston’s proclivity for catching the ball against his body. But the Chiefs could use a big wideout with top-end speed, and Travis Kelce gave his stamp of approval this week.

ND — Not drafted.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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