NFL mock draft 2025: Early projection is light on franchise QBs, heavy on defense

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The 2024 NFL Draft has wrapped up, which means we can finally do what we all love: get ready for the 2025 class! The NFL Draft cycle never stops, and with the bow on top of 2024 we can get right into 2025.

The 2024 NFL Draft set a record with 23 offensive players coming off the board in round one, and 14 of them consecutively. In 2025, that might not be the case. This draft class is defense heavy, with the top five guys in my early big board all on the defensive side of the ball and 9 (10 if you count Travis Hunter as a DB) in the top 15. If you need an impact defender, this is the draft you’re going to want to get one.

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Meanwhile, this draft doesn’t have a QB in the top-15 picks, at least for now. Here’s our way-too-early look at the first round of the 2025 NFL Draft..

2025 NFL Draft Big Board

Rank Name Position College Year
Rank Name Position College Year
1 James Pearce Jr EDGE Tennessee Junior
2 Deone Walker DT Kentucky Junior
3 Malaki Starks S Georgia Junior
4 Abdul Carter EDGE Penn State Junior
5 Will Johnson CB Michigan Junior
6 Will Campbell OT LSU Junior
7 Tetairoa McMillian WR Arizona Junior
8 Kelvin Banks OT Texas Junior
9 Mykel Williams EDGE Georgia Junior
10 Mason Graham DT Michigan Junior
11 Patrick Payton EDGE Florida State Junior
12 John Emery Jr OT LSU Junior (RS)
13 Travis Hunter CB/WR Colorado Junior
14 Luther Burden III WR Missouri Junior
15 Nic Scourton EDGE Texas A&M Junior
16 Carson Beck QB Georgia Junior
17 Benjamin Morrison CB Notre Dame Junior
18 Harold Perkins IV LB LSU Junior
19 Evan Stewart WR Oregon Junior
20 Shedeur Sanders QB Colorado Senior
21 Ashton Jeanty RB Boise State Junior
22 Quinshon Judkins RB Ohio State Junior
23 Emeka Egbuka WR Ohio State Senior
24 Omarion Hampton RB North Carolina Junior
25 Colston Loveland TE Michigan Junior
26 Barrett Carter LB Clemson Junior
27 Devin Neal RB Kansas Senior
28 Princely Umanmielen EDGE Ole Miss Senior
29 Jabbar Muhammad CB Oregon Senior
30 Denzel Burke CB Ohio State Senior
31 JT Tuimoloau EDGE Ohio State Senior
32 Jack Sawyer EDGE Ohio State Senior

Why Tennessee’s James Pearce Jr. is our No. 1 player

The board is topped by Tennessee EDGE James Pearce Jr., who has a really good shot at being the first Volunteer selected inside the top five since Eric Berry in 2010. The first thing that stands out about Pearce is the speed, and oh boy he has a lot of it. His 6’5, 242 pound frame bursts out of a four-point stance at incredible speeds, and he uses that burst and bend to dip right around the corner. I mean, this is just absurd off the snap of the ball.

Not only does he use his speed to get around the corner, but he also has an expanding pass rush game that sees him use his speed to set up tackles on the edge in order to dip right back inside. He’s lethal on stunts and loops, and closes gaps really quickly.

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He’s a true backside EDGE defender, one who chases down plays from the backside relentlessly and provides juice in the pass rush department. As his game and frame continue to grow and fill out, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be the top pick in the 2025 draft.

Top defensive tackles stand out

Among the top-10, there are two defensive tackles that stand out: Kentucky’s Deone Walker and Michigan’s Mason Graham. Walker is built like your average apartment complex at 6’6, 348 pounds, but unlike your traditional space eating DTs that size, Walker has top-flight quickness and agility unbecoming of a guy so big. Among every defensive tackle in college football last year, Walker was first in the NCAA in total pressures and tied for third in sacks. He played along the front for the Wildcats and is going to continue to be a big factor in their defense. I want to see him improve his consistency with his pad level and pass rush plan but he’s arguably the best of the mountain men that have come into the NFL at that size.

Mason Graham is a ball of chaos in the middle of Michigan’s defense. He’s powerful off the snap and has a nice arsenal of pass rush moves on the inside. Graham is also really good on stunts and loops, where he crashes into the backfield like a bull in a china shop. As Michigan gets ready to make their repeat campaign, Graham and cornerback Will Johnson (number 5 on the board) are going to be massive in their defensive efforts.

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Look somewhere else for QBs

If your team needs a QB in 2025 … good luck. Only two QBs make my early top 32, and even then they still have many questions to answer. Georgia QB Carson Beck is QB1 and comes in at No. 16. He’s got impressive velocity on his passes and can execute passes with flashes of touch and accuracy. However, his play outside of structure still needs a bit of growth, as does his ball placement consistency. Teams will love his play within structure, however.

After that comes Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders. The first thing that comes to mind with Sanders’ game is how beautiful of a deep ball he throws. He’s got good, not great velocity but has such good touch and timing downfield that he makes up for it with anticipation. He’s a true pocket passer who wants to get through progressions and make plays. However, his play under pressure has to improve. Colorado’s offensive line is still more of a suggestion than an actual thing, and he’s got to figure out his answers vs pressure. I also think he tries to press to hard, which could also be a reflection of Colorado’s offense. He goes in as QB2, but could easily make his way to top status.

After that, the cupboard gets bare. Notre Dame’s Riley Leonard could be QB3, but he’s going to need to answer questions about his downfield passing and his ability to mitigate the Jackass moments. Miami transfer QB Cam Ward could be in there, but he also has to drastically reduce the Jackass plays. The transfer portal has made a major impact on NFL Draft evaluation, and 2025 might be the first true year we get to see it.

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The year of the slash

The slash is back, baby! In the 2025 draft class, there are a lot of players who fit more of a hybrid role. Penn State’s Abdul Carter looks eerily similar to another number 11 who played at Penn State, but he’s moved from off-ball LB to EDGE, where his blinding burst and athleticism makes him a terror off the line of scrimmage. Off the ball, his vision and ability to process gets a little spotty, so keeping him on the edge is best for his NFL future.

Colorado’s Travis Hunter is the other top prospect from the Buffaloes on this big board. While he can be a very good wide receiver, he has the potential to be an elite cornerback. His ball skills and processing of route concepts stands out in zone coverages, where he uses his top tier burst to close down on the ball. He still has some refinement to undergo at cornerback with his technique in press, but he’s got NFL traits and instincts at cornerback, something that shouldn’t be forsaken because of how good he is as a receiver.

LSU LB Harold Perkins is one of the most interesting cases in the class. He flew onto the scene as a freshman EDGE, using his quickness and burst to overwhelm tackles. However, his slighter frame (220 lbs) and a lack of depth for the Tigers off the ball forced him to move off the line of scrimmage. Perkins is still a very good athlete with the range to close gaps in the run and passing game, his feel on the inside still needs to improve. His growth at off-ball LB will continue to be fun to watch.

The running backs are back!

This upcoming draft class has a LOT of very talented RBs. Four of them make my top 32, but some guys that almost made the list were UCF’s RJ Harvey, Ohio State’s Treyveon Henderson and Penn State’s Kaytron Allen and Nicholas Singleton. My favorite back in this class is Boise State’s Ashton Jeanty, a guy who just never goes down on first contact. Jeanty was fourth in the nation in Yards After Contact per attempt and Broken Tackle + Missed Tackle Rate. He’s got a powerful, low center of gravity at 5’9 and 215 pounds, while providing enough breakaway speed to take plays to the house. Ball security is a bit of an issue (four fumbles in 2023), but he provides three down versatility to make him my top back in the class.

A guy you should keep your eye on: Kansas’ Devin Neal. While he’s a senior prospect, Neal has great vision and balance, while being such a hard charging back in a fun Kansas offense. He’s not the most dynamic receiver out of the backfield, Neal is a super fun, intriguing prospect to keep an eye on in the 2025 draft class, which features a lot of really cool backs.





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