By Conor Perrett 

With the NFL Draft just around the corner, the time has finally come for all the rumours to come to an end as the professionals take control. 

After months of speculations about what will go down, nothing prepares fans for the shocks and surprises that will happen. So to save you a potential heart attack, let’s take a look at what may be the biggest shocks during Round 1 of the NFL Draft.

  1. Raiders get their QB

There could be as many as four quarterbacks potentially going in the Top-5, the Raiders may be just outside the loop if they want ‘their guy’ at pick seven. 

Vegas made the major move to cut ties with long-term QB Derek Carr earlier in the off-season and made a sideways move to grab Jimmy Garoppolo. Now in the eyes of Josh McDaniels, I’m sure he’ll view the acquisition as an upgrade by finally getting to use the former New England’s second round draft pick, but he might want to ensure he’s upgraded at the most pivotal position.

While Jimmy G has made it to a Super Bowl, he’s no long-term answer, so they could be in play to welcome CJ Stroud. When I look at the former Buckeye QB, I get plenty of Raider vibes from him. 

Viewed as the No. 2 QB prospect in this draft class, Stroud’s stock has started to fall in the week leading up to the big day. However, I don’t see that stopping Vegas. Whether the rumours are true and Stroud falls, or the Raiders make the trade to move up to pick two or three, I think Stroud could be wearing a black and silver cap on Thursday night.  

2. Atlanta breaks the unwritten rule  

Running back is one of the easiest positions for a draft prospect to transition to, which also makes it one of the most replaceable positions for an NFL team. Because of that, taking a running back in the first round is viewed as a big no-no, but it’s harder to say no when Bijan Robinson is the prospect.

One of the best running back prospects to come out in the last decade, in my opinion Robinson is a Top-5 player in this draft class. Despite his obvious talent, he has been mocked anywhere from the mid-teens to early second round due to his position. 

On Draft night, I could see things going differently with the Falcons at pick eight. Atlanta loves to run the ball and with several big defensive free-agent players already acquired, it gives them the luxury to treat themselves to the 21-year-old phenom.  

3. Will Levis tumbles

Currently Will Levis is flying up the betting odds for the first and second overall pick, but I’m not buying it. 

Throughout the entire draft cycle, Levis has been viewed as the fourth QB prospect, with the soon-to-be 24-year-old not having the same floor or ceiling compared to the other top QBs coming out of college this year.

Every year leading up to the draft, the media over-hypes the need for QBs and tends to over-predict the number selected. For example, last year only one QB went in the first round and even the year before both Justin Fields and Mac Jones slid out of the top 10.

This year I see events unfolding no differently, and I think a maximum of three QBs will go in the top 10, which unfortunately leaves Levis on the out for me, as I view his range between 11 to the Titans or 16 to the Commanders.

4. Edge Rushers go big 

There are many solid position groups in this year’s draft class, however, I am going to say ‘Edge’ is the most drafted position in the first round. 

No position group is more of a hit in the first round compared to the later ones than an edge rusher. I especially believe we could see a run of edges falling off the board at the back end of round one. Currently, five edge rushes that look like first round locks include Will Anderson, Tyree Wilson, Nolan Smith, Lukas Van Ness and Myles Murphy.  

However, look out for a few more.

Announcing his name to the world during the combine, Northwestern’s Adetomiwa Adebawore is one of my favourite prospects in this class. With unbelievable athleticism and ridiculous arm length for his size, I view him as a first-round player. 

Also look out for a few Day 2 prospects going to teams looking to upgrade their pass rush. BJ Ojulari from LSU, Will McDonald out of Iowa State and Felix Anudike-Uzomah of Kansas State are all prospects who could surprisingly hear their names called on Day 1 of the NFL Draft.

5. An NFL star gets traded 

When it’s draft night, we turn our attention to the prospects and we forget about the other thousands of players already on NFL teams. Last year we saw two first-round wide receiver trades for AJ Brown and Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown by the Eagles and Cardinals respectively.

This year, I could see more stars being traded during the draft. While it’s difficult to know who is on the trade block, a couple of names I could see being moved on are Jonah Williams, Patrick Queen and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

All three players have fallen on their team’s depth chart, but there’s still plenty of talent left in them. Sometimes a fresh start is the best answer for both parties, so don’t be surprised to see some stars traded during the three-day event. 

So with Draft Night soon upon us, without further ado, the Carolina Panthers are on the clock.

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