SportMap's Cody Stoots takes a look at the draft before free agency gets started

Cody Stoots' NFL mock draft 1.0

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My first go at a mock draft this year. This is a pre-free agency look and some of this picks will be rendered obsolete with the players added via free agency. That isn't going to stop me because after a little while in free agency we will do another one of these.

1. Arizona Cardinals - Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

Can't see this playing out any other way right now.

2. San Francisco 49ers - Nick Bosa, Edge, Ohio State


3. New York Jets - Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama

Ditto again.

4. Oakland Raiders - D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss

Let's get wild Gruden. Metcalf was a monster at the combine and though Gruden is calling the shots there is still Davis blood at the top. There is almost no talent on the offense and this helps in that category. With two other picks in the first round there is room for error here. High risk, high reward.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Devin White, LB, LSU

The Buccaneers missed the chance to have a field general and tone setter at safety last year by passing on Derwin James. Different position but the missed result gets righted here. White can ball and Tampa needs ballers on the defense.

6. New York Giants - Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State

I wanted to put a tackle here to protect Eli Manning since they're set on him being the quarterback but making sure the future is buttoned up is a necessity at this point.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars - T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa

A new toy for Nick Foles and hopefully a player to help their rushing attack as well. They have invested heavily in the offense and the quarterback has held them back. It will be Nick Foles' job to make sure the quarterback isn't a huge negative for Jacksonville.

8. Detroit Lions - Josh Allen, Edge, Kentucky

The Lions have to be jumping for joy this guy is still here.

9. Buffalo Bills - Rashan Gary, Edge, Michigan

Too much investment at defensive tackle to put Ed Oliver here. I almost thought about a tackle here but surely they can piece the spot together for another year to make sure they have a pass rusher for years to come.

10. Denver Broncos - Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

John Elway has disappointed a ton for the Broncos in the draft. The idea of pairing Greedy Williams with veteran cornerback Chris Harris seems like a situation even Elway can't mess up.

11. Cincinnati Bengals - Devin Bush, ILB, Michigan

There needs to be a makeover on defense getting away from the dirty and poor linebacker play they have been known for in recent years. Bush is freak and will earn back respect with thump after thump patrolling the middle for the Bengals.

12. Green Bay Packers - Brian Burns, Edge, Florida State

There is an intense need to get better on defense and Burns' impressive combine has him flying up draft boards.

13. Miami Dolphins - Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

Miami very well could be getting another Ryan Tannehill level quarterback but they have to start turning the page at the position.

14. Atlanta Falcons - Ed Oliver, DL, Houston

Biggest steal of the draft if this happens.

15. Washington Redskins - Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

Williams' potential versatility helps with playing now and the age of their tackles makes his future secure protecting the unsure quarterback position going forward.

16. Carolina Panthers - Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida

This helps Cam Newton stay durable and Christian McCaffrey get even better.

17. Cleveland Browns - Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia

This has the potential to be a nasty tandem pairing Baker with last year's selection Denzel Ward.

18. Minnesota Vikings - Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

A nasty defensive lineman to help ease the pain of any potential cuts and a hole at defensive tackle.

19. Tennessee Titans - Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

I am sure Mike Vrabel can find a way to use him on his defense.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers - Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State

Bud Dupree 2.0 is a potential outcome but pairing him with T.J. Watt could mean the Steelers are a formidable pass rushing team.

21. Seattle Seahawks - Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame

Plug and play another good player on defense for Seattle. Seems like they consistently get good players dropping into their laps.

22. Baltimore Ravens - N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State

There is no talent at the wideout position and Harry solves that.

23. Houston Texans - Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State

Likely a dream scenario. I am betting on teams getting scared off from his lack of experience blocking in the run game allowing him to fall this far. The Texans couldn't get the card up there fast enough.

24. Oakland Raiders - Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

A safer selection than Metcalf but another talented player to assist in the rebuild.

25. Philadelphia Eagles - Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina

This was one of the harder teams to peg. Alshon Jeffery has worked out just fine for the Eagles why not another South Carolina pass catcher.

26. Indianapolis Colts - Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

Adding talent to the secondary is never a bad option especially when money spent on cornerbacks rarely works out so drafting one is a better option.

27. Oakland Raiders - Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, Florida

Two offensive players in the books so the Raiders have to go defense here. They've failed at safety in recent years so they try to right the ship in the secondary.

28. Los Angeles Chargers - Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

A nice player in a nice spot for the Chargers who keep adding to a nice defense.

29. Kansas City Chiefs - Justin Layne, CB, Michigan State

They have to add defense and Layne has tremendous potential and size in a division loaded with impressive wideouts.

30. Green Bay Packers - Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma

Versatility gets him on the field early.

31. Los Angeles Rams - Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama

Safety help with the safety turnover will be a popular thought for the Rams.

32. New England Patriots - Jachai Polite, Edge, Florida

Before the combine he was a high pick and he will still be in the first round when he falls right into the lap of the Patriots.

54. Houston Texans - Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame

There has to be more talent in the cornerback room for the Texans and Love is a dynamic player. He was a huge key for the Irish and could start being a key for the Texans.

55. Houston Texans - Erik McCoy, C, Texas A&M

There is no reason Nick Martin shouldn't be pushed. While Garrett Bradbury would be the ideal selection he will be long gone before this spot. The next center off the board should be McCoy. I don't know if he could usurp Martin right away but push him and maybe the other guards from the start of camp would be a welcome sight.

86. Houston Texans - Khalen Saunders, DT, Western Illinois

I would love to say Michigan defensive lineman Chase Winovich is here and the Texans snatched him up to be a versatile defensive weapon but I believe he will be gone. Adding beef to the middle making the linebacker's job a bit easier and maybe even stealing some pass rush from the middle of the defensive line.

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This year, the Astros are favored to win the World Series. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

When the umpire yells "play ball!" on Thursday for Astros opening day, three players- a full third of their batting order - will be missing from their opening day lineup from last year when, oh yeah, they won the World Series. Jose Altuve and Michael Brantley are on the injured list and Yuli Gurriel effectively was told good luck in your future endeavors. Other notables from last year no longer with the Astros: Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, Aledmys Diaz, Christian Vasquez, and Jake Odorizzi.

That's on top of the Astros in recent years saying goodbye to All-Stars Gerrit Cole, George Springer, Carlos Correa and Charlie Morton. Don't underestimate Morton's contribution when he pitched for the Astros in 2017-18. He went 29-10 and won Game 7 of the 2017 World Series, that's all.

And while the team keeps on winning at a historic pace, all these injuries and departures are going to catch up to the Astros one of these years.

But this ain't the year. The Astros demolished baseball last year, winning their division by 16 games and roaring through the postseason going 11-2, including sweeps of the Mariners and Yankees.

Las Vegas oddsmakers have the Astros as the (+600) preseason betting favorite to repeat as World Series champs in 2023, followed by the New York Yankees (+650), Los Angeles Dodgers (+750), New York Mets (+750), Atlanta Braves (+1000) and San Diego Padres (+1000).

It's a different scene from 2022 when the Dodgers, Braves, Yankees and even the Toronto Blue Jays all were preseason favorites over the Astros to win the World Series. In other words, Mattress Mack will load up on the Astros again this season and hopefully visit the pay window again. He just may not get the gross national product, all-time payout he got last year. Poor guy. Mack's already put down $1.9 million on the Astros, a commitment that's likely to increase as the Astros plow through the season.

The over/under wins total for the Astros is 95.5. That's a good number for an FM radio station, but the Astros should blow by that total in mid-September. The Astros won 106 games last year, and at least 100 wins in four of the last five full seasons. I wonder if Mack has room in his car for next time he drives to Louisiana to make a bet. I call shotgun!

While Altuve and Brantley sit on the wounded list Thursday, and Gurriel is wearing a Miami Marlins uniform, one thing will be the same as Opening Day last year. Framber Valdez, the Astros' quality start machine, will be on the mound against the Chicago White Sox at Minute Maid Park. The game will start at 6:08 p.m., airing on ESPN. Get there early to watch the Astros unfurl another World Series banner. Remember that AT&T SportsNet gets benched when ESPN does an Astros game. Bummer. Blummer. ESPN also has the April 16 game against the Rangers and the April 30 rematch with the Phillies.

How did Valdez perform Opening Day 2022? As it would turn out all season, typical Valdez: 6.2 innings, no runs, only two unproductive hits, one walk, six K's and he got the W. Final score:, Astros 3, Los Angeles Angels 1. Valdez started, got the win, Pressly pitched the ninth, got the save. Sound familiar? Lather, rinse, repeat. The opposing pitcher that game - some under-publicized fellow named Shohei Ohtani. It wasn't Ohtani's day. While he pitched ok, surrendering four hits and one run over 4.1 innings, he took the loss. Ohtani also went 0-4 at the plate.

The Astros won Game 2 of that series, 13-6, behind Odorizzi and a battalion of relievers. The Angels exacted revenge in Game 3, a 2-0 shutout with Noah Syndergaard starting. Verlander, despite giving up only one run over five innings, absorbed the loss.

Of course games will look different this season with no infield shift, bigger bases and a pitch timer. The only thing that will look the same - the standings. Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez will salivate when they don't hit screamers through the infield only to be thrown out by second basemen playing short right field. Altuve's fractured thumb should heal in time for the future Hall of Famer to return in early June. Brantley could be back in May. Lance McCullers is anybody's guess, but time heals all wounds, including elbows.

The Astros are riding a dynasty-level of success, you know the numbers, six consecutive postseason appearances (only team in MLB history to win a postseason series six straight seasons), six ALCS appearances in a row, four World Series appearances, two championships.

There's no reason to stop now.

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