UPDATED: D. Led’s Mock Draft 1.0: Falcons take offensive tackle Peter Skoronski

Updated: The Panthers traded for the top pick Friday. We adjusted the mock draft accordingly.

From the Panthers website: According to multiple reports, the Panthers will send the Bears the ninth overall pick in this year’s draft, the late second-rounder acquired from the 49ers (61st overall), along with next year’s first-round pick, a 2025 second-rounder, and wide receiver DJ Moore to get to the No. 1 overall choice in this year’s draft. The deal won’t be official until the start of the league year Wednesday.

FLOWERY BRANCH It’s prudent to wait until after the NFL combine to craft Mock Draft 1.0 and cast it out into the football metaverse.

Those mocks before the combine generally are a waste of time and should be frowned upon.

Everyone had Georgia’s Jalen Carter in the top 10 and Florida’s Anthony Richardson outside of the top 10 before last week’s scouting combine.

No one knew Carter would be arrested nor that he would be accused of leaving the scene of a fatal crash until the AJC’s investigative reporters Alan Judd and Dylan Jackson broke that story March 1. Carter had to leave Indianapolis to turn himself in to authorities in Athens. He returned on an early-morning flight out of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Thursday to interview with teams.

Now, teams that preach brotherhood and team unity want to know if, and how, Carter would leave the scene with two teammates and two staffers in an accident.

Carter, who some had ranked as the No. 1 player in the draft, clearly had the worst combine, while Richardson had the best. He moved into the top 10 and has solidified a spot as one of the top quarterbacks in the draft behind Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Kentucky’s Will Levis.

The Falcons hold the eighth overall pick and will have several good options, just like last season in the same position.

After it was reported that the Falcons will not get into the Lamar Jackson derby, we have to work under the premise that the Falcons plan to build out their roster and drop in the quarterback later, like the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers did.

The Chiefs built their team, drafted Patrick Mahomes and then traded Alex Smith when he was ready. The 49ers built their team and have been trying to drop Trey Lance in there at QB for the past two seasons. They were wise to keep Jimmy Garoppolo around and lucky that they hit on seventh-round pick Brock Purdy as a game manager.

While with the Saints, general manager Terry Fontenot was part of building stout defensive and offensive lines. That project is expected to continue in free agency and the draft.

Peter Skoronski is a keeper. His grandfather played for Vince Lombardi with the Green Bay Packers and was a five-time NFL champion.

While we have Carter dropping to the Jets at 13, there are five players from the Bulldogs projected to go in the first round.

Note: There are only 31 picks this year because the Dolphins had to forfeit their pick for violating integrity-of-the-game rules.

Here’s how the first round will unfold:

1. Carolina Panthers: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State – Draft Kings made Stroud the favorite to go No. 1 after the trade, and Las Vegas is always right.

2. Houston Texans: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama – They can sit at No. 2 and get their quarterback.

3. Arizona Cardinals: Will Anderson Jr., DE, Alabama – The Bears bailed out of the top pick, which left Anderson available for the Cardinals.

4. Indianapolis Colts: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky – They’ll be impressed with Levis’ arm talent.

5. Seattle Seahawks: Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh – Pete Carroll gets his version of Aaron Donald to anchor the defense.

6. Detroit Lions: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson – The Lions get some interior help to go with the outside rushers they picked up in the last draft in Aidan Hutchinson and James “Da Problem” Houston VI.

7. Las Vegas Raiders: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida – CBS analyst Charles Davis compared him favorably with Cam Newton.

8. Falcons: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern – The Falcons have to fix the trenches on offense and defense.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC

9. Chicago Bears: Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech – The Bears add a piece for the defense.

10. Philadelphia Eagles: Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas – The Eagles fix the weakest link in their defense.

11. Tennessee Titans: Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State – The Titans moved on from Taylor Lewan and need to rebuild their offensive line.

12. Houston Texans: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State – Another Buckeyes receiver coached by Brian Hartline.

13. New York Jets: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia – Coach Robert Saleh would be perfect for Carter.

14. New England Patriots: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia – The Patriots have had success with linemen from Georgia and Georgia Tech.

15. Green Bay Packers: O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida – The line has gotten old and needs an infusion of talent.

16. Washington Commanders: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame – New offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy needs a tight end to play the role of Travis Kelce.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC

17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State – Easiest pick in the mock draft.

18. Detroit Lions: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois – Could develop into a lockdown corner.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Brian Branch, CB/S, Alabama – “I feel like I’m versatile,” said Branch, who played at Sandy Creek High. “I can play anywhere in the back end.”

20. Seattle Seahawks: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU – The Seahawks add an offensive weapon after going defense early.

21. Los Angeles Chargers: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon – He started his career at Colorado and finished strong in a season with the Ducks.

22. Baltimore Ravens: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia – Had the iconic interception in the national title-game win over Alabama, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds at the combine.

23. Minnesota Vikings: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina – The Vikings must revamp their secondary.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas – Strong runner who would help Trevor Lawrence’s play-action passes.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC

25. New York Giants: Jordan Addison, WR, USC – After paying quarterback Daniel Jones, they need to give him a legitimate No. 1 receiver.

26. Dallas Cowboys: Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama – The Cowboys get a replacement for Ezekiel Elliott. Gibbs should take some pressure off quarterback Dak Prescott.

27. Buffalo Bills: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College – They get some help for Josh Allen and insurance for Stefon Diggs if he keeps pouting about not getting the ball.

28. Cincinnati Bengals: Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia – The Bengals get a big target for Joe Burrow to go with his fleet of wide receivers.

29. New Orleans Saints: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah – He’s considered the best receiving tight end in the draft.

30. Philadelphia Eagles: Nolan Smith, LB, Georgia – The Eagles add another former Bulldog to their defense to go with Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean.

31. Kansas City Chiefs: Lukas Van Ness, Edge, Iowa – The Chiefs parted ways with Frank Clark and need a committed pass rusher, not just “Playoff Frank.”

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC

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