Monthly Archives: April 2023

2023 NFL MOCK DRAFT – Round 1

By Sam Morris

Sam Morris is from Madison Heights, Michigan, and is an undergraduate student at BGSU majoring in Sport Management. He has a passion for sports writing and journalism. In his free time, he volunteers in the strategic communications department at BGSU at various sporting events and he also performs, writes, and produces his own raps for the music industry club at BGSU.

April 27, 2023

This year’s NFL draft will take place outside of the Union Station Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri, home of the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. The draft is set to be one full of excitement with many rumors of draft day trade scenarios regarding QB’s and key contention pieces. As usual, teams toward the top of the draft tend to have glaring needs that must be addressed quickly if they hope to be in playoff contention in the coming year. With this Round 1 Mock Draft, I will be showing who I think each team should draft at their respective slots and why they should do so. Below are all 31 of my mock picks in the first round of the 2023 NFL draft.

Teams Without a Pick:

  • Dolphins (Lose first round pick for Tua Tagovailoa malpractice concussion protocol violation)
  • Browns (DeShaun Watson trade)
  • Broncos (Russell Wilson trade)
  • 49’ers (Trey Lance trade)
  • Rams (Matthew Stafford trade)

1st Round Mock

(I won’t include any draft trade predictions)

  1. Carolina Panthers (from Chicago)
  • QB Bryce Young (University of Alabama)

After letting Baker Mayfield go to the Rams and Darnold to the 49’ers, the Panthers are no doubt going with a QB with their newly acquired first overall pick. This pick was acquired via a trade with the Bears where Carolina gave Chicago their top WR DJ Moore, their 9th OVL pick, their 61st OVL pick, a 2024 1st round pick, and a 2025 2nd round pick.  It’s safe to say that giving up this much draft capital is surely for a new franchise QB. This pick is ultimately between Bryce Young and C.J Stroud. I ultimately went with Young because despite his shorter stature, he has more running ability and a more accurate arm. The Panthers are slowly building something in Carolina with this pick and newly acquired RB Miles Sanders, especially since they play in the worst division in the NFL, the NFC South.

2. Houston Texans

  • QB C.J. Stroud (Ohio State)

At the #2 pick I have the Texans picking who I think is a slightly less talented QB than Young in Ohio State’s C.J Stroud. Although the Texans recently drafted Davis Mills out of Stanford, he is clearly not the answer as he has posted just a 33.1 QBR in his 2 years in the league which ranks 29th among NFL QB’s and a 32:26 TD/INT ratio which ranks just 25th. Although Mills may be a solid backup his .178 win percentage will not get it done as a starter. Stroud will be an instant upgrade in his arm strength and running ability. Although his accuracy and turnover ratio isn’t as strong as Young’s, Stroud posted insane passing yard and touchdown numbers at Ohio State that should transfer nicely into the NFL.

3. Arizona Cardinals

  • DE Will Anderson Jr. (ALA)

The Cardinals need some major help on both sides of the line of scrimmage but with D.J Humphries resigning at LT and the fact that they play the 49ers, Seahawks, and Rams offenses twice a year, they may lean toward this year’s consensus top defensive talent, Will Anderson Jr. Anderson will more than make up for the retirement of J.J Watt as he is an agile and versatile defensive end who can play linebacker as well. Anderson will provide the Arizona defensive line with an instant improvement on the tackling and playmaking front.

4. Indianapolis Colts

  • QB Anthony Richardson (University of Florida)

The Colts also need a franchise QB as they have essentially been in a QB carousel ever since former #1 overall pick Andrew Luck retired. Indianapolis was one of the more disappointing teams last year as Johnathon Taylor had an egregiously bad year compared to 2022 and the once top-notch defense struggled. They again got swept by Jacksonville, who actually came away with the division title and a playoff win, something the Colts haven’t done since Peyton Manning played for them. Anthony Richardson should fix at least one of these issues as he has risen up scouts’ ranks with an impressive pro and scout day and has had two great last seasons playing for Florida. He is one of the biggest QB’s in terms of size in this draft at 6’4, 230 and has arguably the best arm accuracy of anyone on the board. The Colts would love to get him at #4.

5. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver)

  • NT Jalen Carter (University of Georgia)

Surprisingly, it looks like the Seahawks have won the Russell Wilson trade so far. Not only has Wilson been better at coming up with catchphrases than playing football for Denver, but the Seahawks have re-ignited Geno Smith, gained an offensive weapon in TE Noah Fant and now have a top 5 pick in this year’s draft. This pick in my opinion is the easiest for me to predict in the draft as the Seahawks will likely go for a defensive lineman. Tyree Wilson and Jalen Carter are who I believe Seattle have their eyes on with this pick and while their EDGE rush has been brutal in recent years, with the departure of nose tackle Al Woods to free agency, Seattle has only one defensive tackle on their entire roster, Bryan Mone. For this reason, I think they will pick the highly talented Nose Tackle out of Georgia, Jalen Carter. Carter is a quick swim-move type D lineman who should be able to come in and start immediately for the struggling Seattle defensive front. Despite his insane strength and talent, Seattle needs to keep an eye out for his character issues as he has been suspended multiple times in his college career.

6. Detroit Lions (from L.A. Rams)

  • DE Tyree Wilson (Texas Tech)

The Detroit Lions were one of the biggest surprises from the 2022 NFL season, turning their “Hard Knocks” offseason buzz and ridicule by the media toward their unfiltered coach Dan Campbell into a successful season. The Lions barely missed the playoffs after a 1-6 start, finishing 2nd in the NFC North, and a half game back from the 7 seed, behind the aforementioned Seahawks. While Goff and the offense scored at ease, the defense (aside from Hutchinson, Rodriguez, and Walker) severely struggled. Detroit solved the Safety issue by bringing pro bowler CJ Gardner-Johnson in from Philly but still have glaring holes at Corner as well as on the edge and interior of the D-Line. Although Carter would be a better fit than Wilson in Detroit as his body-slamming antics against LSU definitely fit the “bite their knee cap” mentality of Dan Campbell, his suspension issues would be a major problem as Detroit already has 4 players suspended this season for gambling violations. With Seattle likely taking Carter a pick earlier, the Lions will settle for Wilson who will give them a ferocious defensive end duo with last year’s 2nd overall pick, Aidan Hutchinson. Wilson is 6’6, 275, giving the Lions much needed length on their EDGE rush. Wilson also created 50 QB pressures this season which is exceptional college production that should translate quickly into the next level. With many quality NT prospects this season the Lions should have no trouble finding one to add depth in the later rounds while stealing one of the top edge rushers in the draft here at #6.

7. Las Vegas Raiders

  • CB Devon Witherspoon (University of Illinois)

While some are predicting Vegas pick Levis or Richardson with the 7th selection to fulfil a long term QB need, I think the more obvious and more immediate glaring need is anywhere on defense, especially at CB. Bringing in veteran Jimmy Garoppolo from SF will do more than suffice at QB as Jimmy G has proven he’s a winner. Despite having phenomenal weapons at San Francisco, he hasn’t had anything like the combo of Josh Jacobs and DaVante Adams, which makes me think the Raiders will be just fine on offense. Because they have to play Mahomes, Herbert and Wilson 6 times in a season, CB should be where they focus. Getting Witherspoon or Gonzales makes sense here at 7. Ultimately I went with Witherspoon out of Illinois because I feel like he is more proven with the Big 10 competition going up against guys like Smith-Njigba, Marvin Harrison Jr, and Ronnie Bell, but honestly, it could be a toss up between those two CB’s. As a side note, the Raiders have an early second round pick at 38th that they could potentially use to get Hendon Hooker for a long-term QB solution.

8. Atlanta Falcons

  • DE Lukas Van Ness (University of Iowa)

Atlanta is unlikely to take a QB here with Ridder only playing for one season. This was one of the toughest picks for me to make because they have needs in a lot of other areas including interior O-Lineman and D-Lineman, their WR depth is low after last year’s 8th OVL pick Drake London, and their RB room lacks depth. However, I ultimately went with Lukas Van Ness, a Defensive End because their pass rush was one of the worst in the league last season. Van Ness should be an impact player with his pass and rush defensive abilities, especially in one of the weakest QB leagues that includes Derek Carr, Baker Mayfield, and likely the #1 OVL pick as the other three starters. Although I don’t think this is the right pick here, I could also see Atlanta selecting RB Bijan Robinson here at 8 just because he is such a highly talented prospect.

9. Chicago Bears (from Carolina)

  • LT Peter Skoronski (Northwestern)

As previously stated, the Bears got a ton of picks as well as D.J Moore from the Panthers for the #1 pick which they surely were not using on a QB with Justin Fields as an emerging star. Because of this, the Bears have landed the 9th pick in the first round which they will most likely use to help protect Justin Fields. The best LT in the draft is close for me between Skoronski, Wright, and Johnson Jr., but I ultimately went with Skoronski out of Northwestern. Like his former teammate, Chargers LT Rashawn Slater, Skoronski is a big but agile tackle who should become a quality starter. The NFC North is one of the worst pass rushing divisions, so adding a good blocker like Skoronski should increase Fields’ ability to get out of the pocket even more in the future.

10. Philadelphia Eagles (from New Orleans)

  • DE Myles Murphy (Clemson)

As the reigning NFC Champs, the Eagles have very few weaknesses. After signing Rashaad Penny and having Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott as quality backup RB’s, I don’t think the Eagles will pick Bijan Robinson this early in the draft, despite being one of only two teams to offer him an official visit. Their D-Line depth is the more pressing issue in my opinion. In terms of their D Line, Fletcher Cox is the only NT who has started in the NFL consistently on Philly’s roster with the highly talented Javon Hargrave gone to San Francisco. They do have an emerging prospect in last year’s first overall, NT Jordan Davis, but they still lack a proven starter on the edge opposite Brandon Graham. Myles Murphy will meet this need as he, along with fellow draft prospect Bryan Breese, anchored one of the best D Lines in the country in terms of rush defense last season at Clemson. At 6’5, Murphy will give the Eagles additional size on their D line that should pair well with the aging pro bowlers Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox. Murphy will be able to play as an edge rusher and rotate in at NT to give Fletcher Cox some rest. This addition could be huge to help improve what was already one of the best D Line units in the country last season.

11. Tennessee Titans

  • LT Paris Johnson Jr. (Ohio State)

The Titans are one of the teams many predict could trade up in the draft to possibly get a QB like Anthony Richardson. If I was to do pre-draft trade predictions, I could see Tennessee trading with Arizona to get their preferred QB. However, although QB Malik Willis didn’t play all that well last season for Tennessee he is only going into his second year. If the Titans don’t trade up to take Richardson, I think they will wait for next year’s stacked draft class and instead draft a LT to help bolster what was arguably the NFL’s worst O Line unit last season. Paris Johnson Jr. would fit perfectly in Vrabel’s run heavy offense as he is a swing tackle who can play either guard position as well in order to maximize Derrick Henry’s talent.

12. Houston Texans (from Cleveland)

  • WR Quentin Johnson (Texas Christian University)

Houston’s weak WR room will almost certainly be addressed with their 12th selection via the DeShaun Watson trade. The question will be which WR will they choose as the first to come off the draft board. For me, it depends on who they take 2nd OVL, assuming they take a QB. If they end up taking Young, I could see them getting Stroud’s teammate, Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Smith-Njigba is the fastest WR in this class and would fit well with Young’s rollout/PA bootleg style of football that he plays. This is because Smith Njigba is gifted at improvising routes after a scramble breakdown, something I think Young does considerably better than Stroud. If they pick Stroud, as I predict, I think Quentin Johnson from TCU is the way to go. Like former Texan, DeAndre Hopkins, Johnson has the ability to catch any ball thrown at the high point in his catch radius. Johnson’s height and sure hands make him a perfect fit for Stroud who currently lacks elite NFL accuracy. Although Smith-Njigba is Stroud’s former teammate and probably a more talented receiver than Johnson, I think Johnson is overall a better fit for the Texans’ situation should they get Stroud at #2.

13. Green Bay Packers (from NYJ)

  • TE Dalton Kincaid (University of Utah)

The blockbuster Aaron Rodgers trade finally allows the Packers to start the Jordan Love era. Unfortunately for Love, the Lions and Vikings are surging and the Packers offensive skill weapons are not what they once were. Adams and Tonyan are gone and after the pick swap with New York, Green Bay should either take an O-Lineman developmental prospect or take a skill player for Love here at 13. Although a Watson, Dobbs, Toure trio isn’t the best WR core out there at the moment, I think TE is where Green Bay goes here as their current starter is Josiah Deguarra, a 4th year player who has just 2 career touchdowns. Dalton Kincaid is in my opinion by far the best receiving Tight End in this draft class as he was Utah’s top receiver last season. Kincaid is both an excellent route runner and blocker who can help Green Bay’s offense from day one.

14. New England Patriots

  • CB Christian Gonzalez (University of Oregon)

The Patriots had one of the best overall defenses, surprisingly, in 2022 with their linebacking duo of Matthew Judon and Josh Uche sending QBs out of the pocket on a regular basis. However, since Stephon Gilmore’s departure to Indianapolis their CB position has been very weak. Jabrill Peppers fills in at RCB when he doesn’t play FS for New England, but even then he is more of a pass rusher, which doesn’t really help New England with one-on-one coverage. Christian Gonzales of Oregon is arguably the #1 CB of the draft so it is a no-brainer to me that New England pick either Witherspoon or Gonzalez with this #14 pick.

15. New York Jets (from Green Bay)

  • LT Darnell Wright (University of Tennessee)

After landing Rodgers from Green Bay and remarkably still attaining a first round pick in this year’s draft, the Jets would happily take an O Lineman here to protect their new face of the franchise. Darnell Wright is a perfect fit here in New York as he is the biggest O lineman projected to go into the first round at 6’5 335, and will have to go up against top notch D Lineman every time he plays an AFC East defense, including the aforementioned Patriots’ linebacking duo, the Bills’ Gregory Rousseau, and Miami’s Bradley Chubb. Wright is in the top tier of O lineman in this year’s draft and just because he is third on that list doesn’t make him any less valuable to New York.

16. Washington Commanders

  • S Brian Branch (University of Alabama)

Washington has, in my opinion, the most interesting pick in this year’s draft because if Vegas and Atlanta pass on QBs then the 4th QB will still be available at Washington’s pick. Will Levis would be a very intriguing prospect with elite arm strength for Washington but I think Washington will pass as they have stated that they have faith in their second year starter out of UNC, Sam Howell. Head coach Ron Rivera told his new Offensive Coordinator, Eric Bienemy, after he was hired that Washington would be “set to roll with second-year QB Sam Howell under center in 2023.” Additionally, because of Washington’s talented offensive skill players and dominant front 7 on their defense, there is speculation that the front office in Washington feels like they are a playoff contender and could eventually try to get a veteran QB via trade. With QB off the table, I believe Washington should turn to their secondary, specifically safety, which struggled mightily as a position group last season. Brian Branch is the consensus best safety of the draft as he is versatile enough to play cornerback, has great route reading ability, and intercepts/pass deflects at a high rate.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers

  • RT Broderick Jones (University of Georgia)

Although I could totally see the Steelers going the defensive back route with this pick due to the underwhelming production Akhello Witherspoon has had over the past few seasons, the addition of veteran Patrick Peterson from Minnesota and Minkah Fitzpatrick’s consistent success creates an overall average to above-average secondary. The Steelers have struggled the most in recent years is protecting the QB with their O-Line, especially from the tackle positions. Ever since Alejandro Villanueva retired, the Steelers have failed to find a left tackle capable of reaching a pro bowl caliber level. With both LT Dan Moore Jr and RT Chukwuma Okorafor now in their 4th and 5th seasons and still underperforming, I think Pittsburgh will take whomever is the best O Line prospect remaining on the board, in this case Broderick Jones. Jones is the second of three Georgia players I have going in the first round and he was a huge reason behind their enormous success these past two seasons. Despite being a sophomore, Jones’ draft stock rose enormously after having a great second season, not only a single sack against the pass rush all season. He may fall this late in the first round of the draft because he is still just 20 years old, but Jones’ talent, ability to play both tackle positions, and raw strength is undeniable and would be too much for Pittsburgh’s struggling O Line to pass up on.

18. Detroit Lions

  • CB Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State)

After addressing their biggest need at NT with Jalen Carter, the Lions will most likely either go with a big-bodied WR to go along with the smaller Amon Ra St Brown and Jameson Williams or go with a CB after trading former 3rd overall pick Jeff Okudah to Atlanta in the offseason. If Houston were to pick Smith-Njigba at 12 instead of Johnson, I would have Detroit picking Johnson as he fits what they need for their #3 WR. However, with Houston taking the TCU star, I have Detroit taking Joey Porter Jr out of Penn State. Although there is a clear drop-off in production and speed from the top 2 CBs (Witherspoon and Gonzales) and the rest of the CBs taken in this first round mock, like Witherspoon, Porter Jr. has proven his value against some of the best teams in the country out of the BIG 10 whereas SEC CB Cam Smith and BIG 10 CB Deonte Banks didn’t fare as well against top ranked opponents like Alabama and Michigan. Porter Jr. has elite speed and allowed just 143 reception yards in his 10 games in 2022.  He should be an immediate starter ahead of current starting CB Chase Lucas and will make the Lions secondary pretty scary on the right side with the addition of  C.J Gardner-Johnson from Philly.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • QB Will Levis (University of Kentucky)

With Tennessee passing on a QB earlier in this mock, this leaves the door open for Tampa Bay to take the 4th QB off the board in Kentucky’s Will Levis. Although Tampa just signed Baker Mayfield and lacks O-Line depth, 4 of the top O-Lineman are already off the board and the QB position currently only consists of Mayfield and Kyle Trask. While Trask hasn’t had an opportunity to play, he doesn’t have the raw talent or prospective upside that Levis brings to the table. Why this pick also makes sense is that Levis is a developmental type of QB, like Malik Willis and Trey Lance, who likely will need a year or two under his belt to work on his accuracy. This means Tampa can keep Mayfield under contract while developing Levis’ skills to become their new franchise QB of the future in a division that is near the bottom of the NFL. Levis overall has incredible arm strength and for that reason, the Texans have offered him an official visit for their #2 spot so if he falls to 19, it would be a great situation for the Bucs. What this pick will likely depend on is if the Tennessee Titans are willing to wait until next year’s draft class to pick a QB and stick with second year QB Malik Willis much like Washington will be doing with Sam Howell. If the Titans pick Levis 11th I would expect Tampa to go after either a CB or an interior offensive lineman.

20. Seattle Seahawks

  • LG O’Cyrus Torrence (University of Florida)

With Tampa selecting a QB and not an IOL, Torrence becomes the first interior O-Lineman drafted and he will become a Seahawk. The 6’5 350 pound guard is a perfect fit to help what might be the NFL’s worst Offensive Line outside of Tennessee. The Seahawks started two rookie offensive tackles last season in Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas. Although they both performed reasonably well, the offensive line as a whole still gave up the 10th most sacks in the league at 46 and the most sacks in the red zone in the entire NFL. These numbers had less to do with the inexperience of their two rookie tackles however, and more to do with their two guards, Damien Lewis and Phil Haynes, who consistently let Geno Smith get under pressure going up against pro bowl interior defensive lineman in their division like Aaron Donald and Arik Armstead. Because Seattle picked up Evan Brown from Detroit, Torrence would fit in nicely on the LG position, giving Seattle a young but much more quality Offensive Line heading into next season.

21. Los Angeles Chargers

  • NT Bryan Breese (Clemson)

Miles Murphy’s partner in crime at Clemson, Bryan Breese was an absolute star in his own right. Although Breese is over 300 pounds, he is extremely agile and his bench and deadlift numbers at the combine and pro days have drawn comparisons to the likes of the projections that Aaron Donald and Bradley Chubb had going into their respective drafts. While the Chargers are an extremely talented team they have weaknesses in running back depth and on their entirety of the defensive line besides Joey Bosa. Although Austin Ekeler has stated he wants a trade I don’t expect Los Angeles to take Bijan Robinson here as their D-Line has been decimated both by injuries that have exposed their depth and by the release of NT Breiden Fehoko to the Steelers. While Fehoko isn’t necessarily a household name he brought a mental toughness and a sense of physicality to the Chargers that they severely lack with his absence. While Breese may not become a pro bowler anytime soon he will round out this D-Line and help the Chargers attack the star QBs of their loaded AFC West division.

22. Baltimore Ravens

  • WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State)

This pick will likely go one of two ways: the Ravens will either pick a CB to replace Marcus Peters or get the WR 1 of the future for Lamar Jackson. Considering they have Marlon Humphrey as one of their CBs and two above average safeties I think the Ravens go with the latter of the two options. Baltimore signed OBJ in the offseason and is currently in contract negotiations with veteran WR DeAndre Hopkins, but even with both of these options they still need someone that Lamar Jackson can turn to as a true number one option for the long term, especially if they want to keep Lamar in Baltimore. Jaxon Smith-Njigba would be just the guy the Ravens would want to acquire as this “true number one” as he is both the fastest deep threat WR in the draft class and has some of the best hands of any WR in the draft class. This would be a dream come true for Baltimore if J.S.N doesn’t get picked by Houston because he has been the most highly graded WR by scouts in this draft class and one of the highest graded WR prospects in the last 5 years, drawing comparisons to Jaylen Waddle, JaMarr Chase, and Justin Jefferson. He would be just the type of WR Baltimore would need to push their offense to the next level in a close race in the AFC North.

23. Minnesota Vikings

  • WR Jordan Addison (University of Southern California)

Minnesota has essentially the same situation as Baltimore (above) in terms of which positions they should be targeting in this year’s draft with CB and WR. Despite having needs on every level of the defense, the CB position is by far the weakest in Minnesota as Mike Hughes (who is now with Atlanta) got traded to Detroit last season. Although I think Minnesota should address this need and there are CBs still available like Deonte Banks or Cam Smith, because of their recent draft history of passing on defensive players until later rounds I think they will address their need at WR (like Baltimore). With long time Viking WR Adam Thielen no longer on the team, their depth at WR is extremely thin behind pro bowler Justin Jefferson. Their number 2 WR is 5’11 deep threat receiver K.J Osborn and their number 3 is Jalen Reagor, one of the biggest draft busts in recent memory after he went to Philly a few picks before Jefferson went to Minnesota. With many top-tier talented WRs still on the board Minnesota is able to get USC prospect Jordan Addison here in the late first round. Jordan Addison was the 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner (FBS’s best WR) and caught 25 TDs combined in 2021 and 2022 with Pitt and USC. Addison will surely provide much needed red zone production from a WR not named Justin Jefferson, something they currently lack.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars

  • CB Deonte Banks (University of Maryland)

The 5th DB off the board is also the 3rd from the BIG 10 as Deonte Banks from Maryland goes here to Jacksonville. Jacksonville was by far the most pleasantly surprising team last season as they not only made the playoffs after having the worst record in back-to-back seasons, but they actually won a playoff game and came pretty close to beating the eventual Super Bowl Champions in the divisional round. Although they have more strengths on their team than they’ve had in quite some time, ever since the Jalen Ramsey trade, there has been a gaping hole at CB that remains to be filled. As previously stated in Detroit’s Porter Jr. pick, Banks struggled heavily against highly ranked opponents, including J.S.N and Ohio State as well as against Ronnie Bell and Michigan. However, many scouts attribute these struggles to the defensive scheme Maryland runs where the safeties play more man-to-man and less zone, allowing their CBs to get burnt one-on-one more often than other teams. With this being said, Banks still has enormous upside in the NFL as he has elite speed, running a 4.35 40-yard time in the combine. Banks also has great versatility similar to Brian Branch out of Alabama in the sense that he is a solid pass rusher and can get QB pressures like a nickelback or linebacker.

25. New York Giants

  • WR Zay Flowers (Boston College)

The 4th and final WR I have going in my first round mock draft is Zay Flowers out of BC. Out of all the teams in the NFL I think the New York Giants need a first round WR the most. After the Giants have essentially let both Kadarius Toney and Richie James walk to the Chiefs their WR depth is completely depleted. While the second rookie out of Kentucky, Wan’dale Robinson, was a bright spot last year, posting 23 rec and 1 TD in 6 games, he was injured two separate times and will likely start the year on the IR. Although they have some depth with veterans Jamison Crowder and Darius Slayton, a top 2 duo of Parris Campbell and Isaiah Hodgins is well below average talent wise. Despite Flowers being just 5’9, his deep threat speed game will be an improved version of what Richie James gave them last year. Flowers can also be a quality return man and is undoubtedly the best vertical route runner in this draft class.

26. Dallas Cowboys

  • RB Bijan Robinson (University of Texas)

Here we go… this has been the pick that I have been alluding to this entire mock draft, RB Bijan Robinson. Robinson is a 6’0 220 pound RB from Texas who is built like a FB but can run like a WR. He has by far the most hype and upside of any prospect in this draft but drafting a RB in the first round is always a scary thing to do given their short career spans and short primes. We have seen RBs like David Johnson and Todd Gurley get picked high in the draft and be elite in the league for a few years but then never pan out. However, we have also seen Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffrey have longer careers and still play in their prime after being drafted high. The Cowboys will be hoping the latter happens as this opportunity would be too good for them to pass up if he fell this far. With Zeke Elliott being released and breakout RB star Tony Pollard being both injured and on the last year of his contract, Robinson would help fill the biggest positional need that Dallas has on offense. Robinson’s combination of speed, strength, catching ability, and power running ability between the tackles make him an all-around threat similar to Derrick Henry. He would be a scary addition to an already potent Dallas offense. In my opinion, the teams Dallas needs to be most worried about snagging Bijan earlier in the draft are Atlanta, Philly, Detroit at #18, and Tampa. I could see Bijan going to either of these four previous destinations because they all lack RB depth and because if they don’t take him they know Dallas as an NFC rival will. Dallas should especially be weary of Philly as they don’t have any real glaring needs on their roster, have an arch rivalry with Dallas, and Robinson himself said on NFL Live that out of all the QB’s in the NFL he would most like to play with Jalen Hurts. Overall, Robinson is my most intriguing prospect of the draft and it will be exciting to see who drafts him.

27. Buffalo Bills

  • LB Drew Sanders (University of Arkansas)

The Bills main goal in this draft should be to bolster their offensive line which lacks quality backups to help protect Josh Allen in the future. But their round one pick will most likely be a LB as they are down a starter with Tremaine Edmunds going to Chicago. Either Drew Sanders or Jack Campbell would be good fits here for Buffalo but I ultimately went with Sanders because he is by far the more versatile of the two options. Sanders was an edge rusher for Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide before coming to Arkansas via the portal and so he has full seasons of experience both blitzing the QB and playing in coverage. Sanders was toward the top of the country in sacks with 11 last season because of this versatility. This should transfer into the NFL where positionless nickelbacks are becoming a must in today’s game.

28. Cincinnati Bengals

  • TE Michael Mayer (Notre Dame)

Although Mixon will likely be out of Cincinnati after this season or possibly by the trade deadline, with Robinson gone I’d find it highly unlikely they’d reach for a RB like Jahmyr Gibbs in the first round. Instead their more immediate need is at TE as Hayden Hurst is now in Carolina. Irv Smith Jr. is a solid TE who has spent his entire 3 year career in Minnesota up to this point but he lacks red zone production, posting just 9 TDs in 3 years and accumulating fewer than 100 receptions combined in his career. Mayer is probably the most experienced player in the draft as he started for 4 years at Notre Dame. Mayer will be able to come in and deliver in the red zone for Cincinnati and be a part of the young homegrown offensive core that the Bengals have built with Chase, Higgins, and Burrow.

29. New Orleans Saints (from San Francisco through Miami and Denver)

  • DE Nolan Smith (University of Georgia)

Because of a massive pick swap between the Saints and Eagles last season, the Saints #10 pick belongs to Philly. Despite this, New Orleans will still get one of the top D Lineman in this draft very late in the first round in edge rusher Nolan Smith. Smith worked opposite of top 10 projected pick Jalen Carter last season and he put up numbers that rivaled his teammate. In Smith’s 4 years as a Bulldog he had 113 tackles, 12 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and one INT, all while never playing a full season due to injuries. It is these injury setbacks that put some pause into GMs when selecting Smith, but his talent, statistical numbers, and agility as a 6’3 240 pound D-Lineman who can play for three downs will make the pick too good to pass up for New Orleans. This is especially the case in New Orleans because DE Carl Granderson has had a rough couple of past years opposite Cam Jordan. Smith would likely start off as a rotational guy but could eventually become a staple piece of the Saints 3-4 style front 7.

30. Philadelphia Eagles

  • CB Cam Smith (University of South Carolina)

After addressing their loss of Javon Hargrave with their #10 pick and with Dallas already picking Bijan Robinson, I have the Eagles taking the second Smith in a row with CB Cam Smith out of South Carolina. With Bradberry and Slay as their current primary corners, the Eagles would use Smith immediately as a rotational third CB. With Gardner Johnson gone in Detroit, Smith would also be helpful at safety as he has been known to be an exceptional zone coverage cornerback which historically translates very well into NFL safeties. This is what happened with Minnesota’s Harrison Smith and the aforementioned Gardner-Johnson who both played CB in college in a zone coverage and have turned into pro bowl safeties in the NFL. Smith is used to high expectations in South Carolina which has become an NFL DB machine lately with Jaycee Horn in Carolina, Stephon Gilmore in Dallas, and Keisean Nixon in Green Bay, so he will be more than up for the high expectations of the Philadelphia Super Bowl caliber defense.

31. Kansas City Chiefs

  • RT Anton Harrison (University of Oklahoma)

With Miami’s pick being forfeited, Kansas City’s 31st overall pick here will be the final pick of the first draft. With the clear top 4 WR’s being selected already, Kansas City’s first selection will go to the 6th O-Lineman taken in this first round, Anton Harrison. Despite Kansas City having one of the most productive offensive lines in the league last year they had to let go of Orlando Brown Jr. and Andrew Wylie and only added Jawaan Taylor, leaving a wide open spot at right tackle. The clear best right tackle in this draft was Broderick Jones who already went to Pittsburgh in this mock so the Chiefs will get Harrison who is slightly smaller than Jones, although still big, at 6’5 315, Harrison hasn’t gotten much media attention with Oklahoma having an extremely underwhelming year in the BIG 12 but scouts love his ability to block both D-Lineman and Linebackers coming through the guard-tackle gaps. Harrison’s blocking ability on the edge is so good that his QB pressure percentage was the best in the country at a slim 2.01%. This statistic in particular should get the Chiefs excited as they want to do all they can to keep their generational talented QB Patrick Mahomes healthy and on the field.

Roman Reigns defeating Cody Rhodes was a bad decision… right? 

By Kalen Lumpkins

Kalen is a fourth year BGSU student from Toledo, Ohio. He is a sports management major with a minor in journalism. His primary sport interests include football and tennis, but he also has an interest in a wide variety in other sports, from baseball to hockey. His dream job outside of college is to be a sportswriter for an organization like ESPN or Sports Illustrated.

April 3, 2023

WrestleMania 39 was stunning from start to finish. From Austin Theory pinning his idol John Cena to Gunther surviving a brutal chop-fest against Sheamus and Drew McIntyre, the fans in attendance were wowed nonstop through both nights. 

The main story of this year’s Showcase of Immortals was the conflict in the Bloodline. The first night ended with Sami Zayn hitting Jey Uso with three Helluva Kicks to make Zayn and Kevin Owens the undisputed tag team champions.

After the Usos’ 619-day tag team title reign ended, all eyes were locked on the second night’s main event, where Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes would finally come face-to-face for the undisputed WWE universal championship.

Since winning the 2023 Royal Rumble, the expectation was that the American Nightmare would dethrone Reigns, finishing his story and finally engraving the Rhodes’ name into the top prize in WWE. Furthermore, the fans at SoFi Stadium were eager to see what they had been waiting for: 

‘This is it; WWE’s final boss goes down. Tonight’s the night Roman loses and the Bloodline ends.’ Many of the viewers thought. 

Instead, it was Goliath that emerged from the smoke. 

The Tribal Chief speared Rhodes, went for the cover, and the referee counted to three. The silent shock of the crowd at SoFi Stadium after the count will tell a better story than anyone ever could. 

Roman Reigns shattered the WrestleMania dream of Cody Rhodes and walked out of the arena, still on top of the world with championships in both hands. 

After the reality of what happened finally hit the viewers, there were two consistent responses: ‘Why did this happen?!’ or ‘Acknowledge him!’ This split is something we have not seen since Brock Lesnar ended the Undertaker’s streak. 

The split is getting heated, and both arguments are valid. Here are some of the points that could be made. 


The Bloodline’s story is not over

Since Rhodes returned to WWE at WrestleMania 38, he had been unstoppable. An incredible feud with Seth Rollins solidified that the American Nightmare had everything it takes to be the top babyface of the company. 

Rhodes vs. Roman was always the endgame, but a torn pec suffered by the returning star could very well have derailed these initial plans. When Rhodes returned, he showed the cracks that existed in the Bloodline and went out to open these cracks further. 

However, after the Usos super kicked Rhodes midway through the WrestleMania match, this meant that the Usos are not sold on leaving Reigns just yet. Neither is Solo Sikoa, who interfered at the end to give Reigns the victory. 

If Rhodes would have prevailed, this would have created confusion in the Bloodline story. At this rate, the group must fall apart before Reigns is defeated, as it would signal how the family’s bond has lifted them to new heights before disbandment. 

The Reigns vs. Rhodes rivalry is not over just yet, so the challenger will still have a chance to get into the heads of the supergroup. It will be interesting to see how the Raw and Smackdown after Mania plays out, but there are still plenty of stories to tell.

Cody’s story is not over, either

Cody Rhodes was on a roll when he returned to WWE. Having won every single match since his comeback, he seemed to be the next guy up. 

In his verbal altercations with Solo Sikoa, he always told him that he was not ready, that he is not there just yet. After his Mania loss, though, Cody Rhodes had questions to ask himself.  

Could he be questioning if he is ready for the moment? Or wondering if he lets the Rhodes family down?  

These are hurdles that Rhodes will have to overcome if he truly wants to finish his story. The loss at the grandest stage of them all could set up a story of Rhodes’s pursuit of maturity and redemption against Reigns.   

A story like this could set up a victory that could potentially be sweeter than a WrestleMania win for the American Nightmare. 

1000 days! 

At the time of writing this, Roman Reigns has held the universal championship for 946 days. He won the WWE championship from Brock Lesnar last year, so he has held both titles for a year now. 

The title reign (pun intended) has been a memorable one for the Tribal Chief, as he has carried the brand on his back for over three years. There is not anyone on the current roster that will be able to replicate this. 

It is also unlikely that Reigns loses the titles before SummerSlam, which is on Aug. 5, so 1000 days seem inevitable. 

The thousand-day mark will be a repayment for all that Reigns has done, while also being an accomplishment we may never see again. 


Who’s going to beat Roman now? 

Here is a list of the wrestlers that Roman Reigns defeated to defend his Universal title: 

  • Jey Uso (twice)
  • Braun Strowman 
  • Kevin Owens (four times)
  • Bryan Danielson, formerly Daniel Bryan (four times) 
  • Edge (twice)
  • Rey Mysterio 
  • Cesaro 
  • John Cena 
  • Finn Balor (twice) 
  • Brock Lesnar (three times) 
  • Sami Zayn (twice) 
  • *Seth Rollins (Reigns lost by DQ, but kept his championships)
  • Goldberg
  • Matt Riddle 
  • Drew McIntyre 
  • Logan Paul 
  • Cody Rhodes 


As of right now, Cody Rhodes is the logical choice to dethrone Reigns, but what if he loses again? The Tribal Chief has run through most of the legitimate threats on the roster, so there is a small number of remaining stars that will be a believable roadblock.

Gunther’s name has been thrown around, as well as Jey Uso being the one, so the Bloodline story comes to a full circle. The reality, however, is that time is running out on the freshness of the undisputed universal title run, and overstaying its welcome will be a sad sight to see. 

Every title match is still predictable

No matter how we view Roman Reigns, we can agree that the same tropes have been used too much. Normal 1-on-1 match until the referee takes a bump, the Usos and/or Solo Sikoa interferes and Roman prevails. 

Now it is reasonable, Reigns is supposed to keep the heel energy. However, doing the same thing for over a year is bound to get tiresome for most of the viewers, Roman fan or not. 

Furthermore, Reigns needing help every match could also delegitimize his case for being the greatest wrestler ever. Yes, others have done this all the time, Edge being the main one, but this does not fit into the unstoppable Tribal Chief Roman Reigns character. 

A clean win vs Rhodes at Mania would have put the thought in the viewer’s mind that no one can beat Reigns. Then, a future Reigns loss would create one of the greatest championship wins for the opposing superstar ever. 

Unfortunately, we got the same interference-filled finish that we have seen countless times. It is time to let these types of endings go for the Bloodline. 

We don’t want a part-time champion!

The biggest flaw of this Roman Reigns title run is the appearance of the Tribal Chief, or lack thereof. This was the problem when Brock Lesnar held the titles around WrestleMania 37, as well. 

In many people’s eyes, they think that Reigns is holding the titles hostage, and that creates a problem all around. Mainly, it takes a toll on attempting to create more main-event-level stars. 

WWE is trying to create more talent by pushing people like Brunson Reed, LA Knight and Gable. When there is not a title to go after when Reigns is gone, though, it leaves the weekly shows in a stalemate. 

This is a problem that WWE has been trying to figure out for some time now, and it may not be solved until Roman Reigns loses the titles. 

There are fair points that can be made for both sides of the split reaction to the Roman Reigns win. One certain thing, however, is that only time will tell. 

Wrestlemania 39: Night Two Review

Caption: Roman Reigns stands victorious alongside Solo Sikoa (R) and Paul Heyman (L) at the end of Wrestlemania night two 

By Ryan Harless

Ryan Harless is a third-year undergraduate at BGSU from Hillsboro, Ohio. He is majoring in Sport Management with a Journalism Minor. Baseball and golf at all levels are his primary interests but he is also interested in combat sports, hockey, basketball, and football.

April 8, 2023

Brock Lesnar def. Omos via pinfall 

This match set the tone for night two of Wrestlemania with a bang. The crowd was excited when Omos appeared for his entrance, but the reaction that Lesnar received was so much louder than I expected. 

In this match that didn’t even reach the five-minute mark, Lesnar was first overpowered by Omos. He was tossed around the ring in a way we hadn’t seen in a long time. But before Omos was able to capitalize, Lesnar snatched him up for an F-5 and pinned him for the three count. 

It was a fun match but didn’t make much sense to me in the long term. WWE had been building up Omos as an undefeatable monster, but Lesnar was able to take him out in under five minutes. We will have to see what the future holds for Omos before chalking this up as a loss. 

Rhonda Rousey & Shayna Baszler def Liv Morgan & Raquel Rodriguez, Natalya & Shotzi, and Chelsea Green & Sonya Deville via submission 

It is very hard to believe that this match went the same length as the men’s tag match from the night before as this match dragged on and on. There was very little story going into the match and the crowd wasn’t into it very much.  

Baszler and Rousey took care of the other teams in dominant fashion, and I expect them to chase after the Women’s Tag Championships in the coming months. 

Gunther def. Sheamus and Drew McIntyre via pinfall 

This was by far the match of the night and possibly the match of Wrestlemania weekend. These three absolutely beat each other senseless and this match was hard-hitting from bell to bell. 

I really didn’t think this match would live up to the hype that surrounded it. But after the nearly 17 minute match, my jaw was glued to the floor. The pure number of chest chops and huge strikes were enough to make you wince in pain.  

After Gunther retained his title and won the match, the trio received their second standing ovation in the match. I HIGHLY recommend seeking this match out for yourselves. 

Bianca Belair def. Asuka via pinfall 

This match was another great match on the night two card. These two always produce magic when they are together in the ring and night two was no different.  

Asuka was in her craziest state we have seen yet and that was a blast to watch and Bianca played up to it perfectly. The crowd was on the edges of their seats throughout the whole match and were biting at every near fall.  

Bianca was able to pick up the win after dodging Asuka’s blue mist attack. As much as I enjoy Belair, I just don’t see their plans for Asuka as it seems they can never give her the big win at Wrestlemania. 

Snoop Dogg def. The Miz via pinfall 

Well… This was weird. After losing his impromptu match against Pat Mcafee the night before, The Miz came out again with Snoop Dogg and talked about how he deserves his Wrestlemania moment.  

Then Shane McMahon’s music hit and he rushed to the ring to answer his challenge. It looked like it would be fun. And then the bell rang. 

Shane threw The Miz into the ropes and went to jump over him as he reached the center of the ring. Shane McMahon then tore one of his quads and collapsed to the mat. After a few moments of confusion and panic, Snoop Dogg grabbed the microphone and challenged The Miz to a match.  

The D-O double G then punched The Miz in the face and then dropped an elbow on him before covering him for a pin. This was a very weird segment but was one of the most professional performances I have ever seen from Snoop Dogg to keep things moving.  

Edge def. “The Demon” Finn Balor via pinfall 

This “Hell in a Cell” match was a great showing of just how chaotic these stipulations can be. The wrestlers began in the ring before quickly getting out of the ring to get weapons involved.  

At one point, we could see Balor throwing chairs at Edge and it looked like he got hit pretty hard by one. The two went back and forth for a little longer before Edge picked up a ladder and launched it at Balor.  

This time, one of the rungs of the ladder hit Balor square on the top of the head, splitting him open, causing blood to spill to the canvas. The medical team did an amazing job of checking Balor for a concussion and also stitching him up at ringside before allowing him to finish the match.  

Unfortunately for Balor, he would go on to lose the match as well as even more allure at the expense of his “Demon” character who has now lost two matches in a row.  

Roman Reigns def. Cody Rhodes via pinfall 

There have been very few times that I have been entirely confused by the outcome of a match. This was one of those times.  

Everything seemed to be in place for Cody to be the one to dethrone the “Tribal Chief” Roman Reigns and become the undisputed WWE Universal champion. He left WWE, toured the independent wrestling scene around the world, and started his own wrestling promotion that rivals WWE today. 

Even when he returned to WWE, he won the Royal Rumble making it seem that everything was right in front of him. And then it wasn’t. And this isn’t to say that it was a bad match, as it was great to watch live.  

But it just seemed like there was something there that would prevent it from happening. Even after Roman’s cousin, Solo Sikoa was ejected from ringside during the match, it still didn’t feel like Cody’s night. 

After over a half hour of back and forth action that was highlighted by near falls and Cody attempting to hit his finisher, the “Cross Rhodes,” the referee was distracted by someone on the outside. This allowed Sikoa to sneak back into the fray and hit Cody with the “Samoan Spike” which then allowed Reigns to nearly cut Cody in half with a spear before pinning him. 

I really expected this Wrestlemania to be the end of The Bloodline (Roman’s family) for a while in WWE. But after Wrestlemania and the WWE TV programing that followed, I wouldn’t be surprised if we still see Roman main-eventing Wrestlemania 40.

Wrestlemania 39: Night One Review

Caption: Kevin Owens (L) and Sami Zayn (R) celebrating after capturing the tag titles at Wrestlemania 39

By Ryan Harless

Ryan Harless is a third-year undergraduate at BGSU from Hillsboro, Ohio. He is majoring in Sport Management with a Journalism Minor. Baseball and golf at all levels are his primary interests but he is also interested in combat sports, hockey, basketball, and football.

April 4, 2023

Wrestlemania was truly a tale of two different nights. It was some of the best wrestling of the year compounded with some odd booking choices, but nonetheless a great time as always.

Austin Theory def. John Cena via pinfall

This match kicked off night one of ‘mania and was a very fun contest that got the fans ready for the rest of the night. The crowd was heavily behind Cena throughout the match and Theory played off that perfectly.

Theory got the win after delivering a low-blow following the referee being knocked down. I was very happy with this match as Theory got a much needed win over an established star.

The Street Profits def. The Viking Raiders, Alpha Academy, and Braun Stroman & Ricochet via pinfall

It was a match meant to showcase the men’s tag division, and one that absolutely delivered at that. This was fast paced, hard hitting action from bell to bell. Everyone did their jobs perfectly and no team came out of this looking bad.

I expect the Street Profits to go after the Unified Tag Championships in the coming months.

Seth Rollins def. Logan Paul via pinfall

I expected this would be a fun match, but it still overdelivered. Paul worked very well as the heel in this match as he was accompanied to the ring by a huge bottle of his sports drink, Prime.

Rollins was played to the ring by the entire crowd singing along to his entrance music which was a super cool scene. The Prime bottle ended up being Paul’s friend KSI, who inadvertently was put through a table by Paul towards the end of the match. This allowed Rollins to hit a Pedigree on Paul and secure the win.

Trish Stratus, Lita, & Becky Lynch def. Damage CTRL (Bayley, Dakota Kai, & Io Sky) via pinfall

Unfortunately, these six had to go on after Paul and Rollins and the crowd was audibly tired. This match suffered as a result. Although the action in the ring was competent, it was clear that Stratus and Lita had lost a step or two in the ring.

Becky Lynch was able to get the crowd back into the action before we got to see Lita hit her “Litasault” and score the win. I still feel strongly that Damage CTRL have been criminally misused since their return at Summerslam 2022.

Rey Mysterio Jr. def. Dominik Mysterio via pinfall

In the matchup that was set to settle the score of a longtime father-son rivalry, Rey scored a victory over his errant son. These two have great chemistry as you would expect, but they turned it up a notch on Wrestlemania Saturday.

Dominick played an amazing heel splashing water on his sister and yelling at his mom at ringside. Rey managed to get Dominik back in the ring before taking off his belt and actually spanking his son with it. Rey got the victory after a 619 and celebrated with the rest of his family at ringside.

Rhea Ripley def. Charlotte Flair via pinfall

This was a rematch three years in the making stemming from when Charlotte defeated Ripley at Wrestlemania 36. These two absolutely tore the house down and were praised handily for it by the crowd reactions.

This 23 minute epic saw a great back and forth between the competitors, although Rhea was clearly the more powerful and dominant of the two. Rhea was finally able to escape with a victory after hitting the “Riptide” from the second rope. Truly a 5-star match from night one.

Pat McAfee def. The Miz by pinfall

Before the main event of the evening, the hosts of the show (The Miz & Snoop Dogg) came out to announce the attendance for the night. The Miz was interrupted by former NFL punter McAfee.

McAfee challenged Miz to a match and a referee appeared. Snoop Dogg distracted Miz on the outside and allowed McAfee to score a quick win, infuriating The Miz in the process.

Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn def. The Usos via pinfall

The main event of night one was everything it was supposed to be. The Usos were extremely dominant for most of the match and the violence was almost uncomfortable at times. The Usos hit Zayn and Owens with no fewer than 20 superkicks throughout the match.

The Usos went for their finisher “The 1D” which in the entire history of pro wrestling, has only been kicked out of ONCE before, but Zayn refused to stay down and kicked out. After about 20 minutes of the match, the two teams stood opposite each other while the crowd gave an ovation.

Owens yelled “let’s finish this” and the two teams went at it again. After the scrap, only Zayn and Jey Uso were left in the ring. After months of anticipation, Zayn snapped and hit Jey with three “Helluva Kicks” and as Jey collapsed in the ring, Sami covered him and scored the pin.

These were two best friends who started wrestling together over two decades ago, winning the tag team championships in front of their families in the main event of Wrestlemania.

This was an amazing event, and if you followed my previous article where I predicted the match winners, you’ll know that I was 5 for 7 (not counting Pat McAfee because it was impromptu).

Wrestlemania Predictions

Caption: Wrestlemania 39 Promotional Banner

By Ryan Harless

Ryan Harless is a third-year undergraduate at BGSU from Hillsboro, Ohio. He is majoring in Sport Management with a Journalism Minor. Baseball and golf at all levels are his primary interests but he is also interested in combat sports, hockey, basketball, and football.

April 1, 2023

It is officially my favorite time of the year, Wrestlemania season. It is the time of the year when World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has their culminative PPV event that wraps up the biggest storylines of the past 12 months and showcases their plans for the next year.

Over the last few years, WWE has split their Wrestlemania card up into two nights to help prevent fans from tiring out by the end of the card. This year is no different with 13 matches (as of now) being spread across the two-night event.

As I did with AEW Revolution, I will be explaining the matches and storylines leading into the event as well as giving my prediction as to who I believe will walk out of “The Showcase of The Immortals” victorious.

Damage CTRL (Bayley, Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky) vs. Becky Lynch, Lita and Trish Stratus

This should be a really fun contest pitting some of the biggest stars in women’s wrestling today against two of the stars of yester-year. Damage CTRL consists of Bayley and two women who were previously released from their WWE contracts amidst one of their many “budget cuts.”

I was really excited for their team when they re-debuted in August of last year but they are yet to do anything of major note on TV. That is my reasoning for predicting the team of Becky Lynch, Lita, and Trish Stratus.

I think this will be a good match that sees the babyface team emerging victorious while getting the crowd tuned in and ready for the night ahead.

United States Championship: John Cena vs. Austin Theory (C)

John Cena hasn’t been a full time wrestler for the last few years, but every time he shows up to wrestle it is always an important occasion.

This story has many layers as many people were quick to compare Austin Theory to Cena as his gimmick was that he was handpicked by Vince McMahon himself to be the next big thing in WWE.

Cena himself was a nondescript good guy when he arrived and was rejected by fans and had to adapt and grow. Theory is undergoing that transformation for himself right now. He already is a great wrestler between the ropes, but I think that a clean victory over Cena here could be what he needs to cement himself as a star.

I believe that Austin Theory will win and retain his United States Championship over Cena in a good sports-entertainment match.

Logan Paul vs. Seth Rollins

Yes, you read that right. YouTube star Logan Paul has a match at Wrestlemania against Seth Rollins. These two have a rivalry that has spanned a few months with Paul interfering in Rollins’ matches over the course of the last few months.

Although Paul has only wrestled a handful of matches, he has consistently been a highlight on every card he has been featured. Paired up with Seth Rollins at ‘Mania, this has a very good chance to be the best match of the night.

I think this is the perfect place to show just how good Paul is in the ring. I expect Logan Paul to win and, much like Austin Theory, cement his place in WWE for many years to come.

‘Fatal 4-Way’ tag team: Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez vs. Shotzi and Natalya vs. Shayna Baszler and Ronda Rousey vs. Chelsea Green and Sonya Deville 

Sadly, not all Wrestlemania matches can be held to the highest standard. This is the first of two seemingly thrown together tag team matches on the Wrestlemania card.

I expect this to be a “cooldown” match to give the crowd a rest between big matches. There is very little story going into the match and basically all of the teams are completely thrown together.

I would expect this to be mainly a showcase for Shayna Bazler and Ronda Rousey as they are both former MMA fighters and have been portrayed as such in the recent weeks.

I predict that Rousey and Bazler will win this match pretty easily and possibly go on to win tag team gold.

‘Fatal 4-Way’ tag team: Braun Stroman and Ricochet vs. The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford) vs. Alpha Academy (Chad Gable and Otis) vs. The Viking Raiders (Erik and Ivar) with Valhalla

Here is the second of the two “cooldown” matches that I noticed when I looked at the card. In my opinion, the biggest saving grace here is that three of the four teams are actual teams with actual team names.

The odd men out are Braun Stroman and Ricochet who have actually been teaming together on WWE TV as of late. All of the competitors are super talented and there is a chance this could be a really fun match to watch.

But the lack of anything being on the line for this match keeps me from being fully invested. Again, like the previous match this might be a way to catapult a team into the tag championship scene (more on that later).

I predict that the Street Profits will win this match and possibly even tease a breakup with the emergence of Montez Ford as a fan favorite.

Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Dominik Mysterio

What a long way we have come since Summerslam 2005 where Rey Mysterio fought Eddie Guerrero in a ladder match for the custody of Dominik.

Dominik is now all grown up and, against his father’s best wishes, has aligned with the dark side while teaming with The Judgement Day. Rey has spent most of the past few weeks doing everything in his power to not resort to violence against his son.

Dominik has terrorized his father in the past months, breaking into his house, attacking him in front of his family and going to jail in the process. Finally, we get to see a match almost two decades in the making.

With Rey Mysterio being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year, he looks to be winding down his career. I think it makes perfect sense for Dominik to get his first Wrestlemania win against his dad.

This should be a great match as the two have amazing chemistry together.

Brock Lesnar vs. Omos with MVP

If you would have told me four months ago that Brock Lesnar would be facing off against Omos at Wrestlemania, I would have laughed and probably ignored you. Oh, how the tables have turned.

This match could go many different ways. In their weigh-in segment on WWE Monday Night Raw, Omos got the better of Lesnar after battering him with the scale.

But, Lesnar still managed to look like a beast as he hurled himself around the ring in a way that we haven’t seen out of Lesnar in a while. I think if “The Beast Incarnate” (Brock Lesnar) shows up to Wrestlemania wanting to work, this will be a blast.

It is hard for me to imagine Lesnar losing a match at Wrestlemania, but if there was ever someone who could beat him, I think Omos could be the one to do it.

Omos is one of the biggest stars (in stature) in WWE history and if they want to make him a scary giant who can terrorize the roster for years to come, this is their chance.

I believe that Omos will beat Lesnar in a statement victory as WWE gains their new giant.

Bobby Lashley vs. Bray Wyatt

This is a weird one to predict as many wrestling fans don’t know where this match stands. It has been mentioned that Wyatt is either sick or injured and more than likely won’t be able to compete at this years event.

However, I can’t imagine that WWE will leave Bobby Lashley off the card. If Wyatt is unable to make the event, I expect Lashley to pick up an easy win against a surprise return or possibly a debut.

Hell in a Cell: Edge vs. “The Demon” Finn Bálor

“The Demon” is the alter-ego of Finn Bálor that we haven’t seen in a long while. It was overused by WWE for a time and lost a lot of its alure. But now, after a long hibernation, it is back and (hopefully) better than ever.

This match has been a long time coming, too, as Edge was the original leader of the group known as “The Judgement Day” but he was kicked out by the group soon after Finn Bálor joined and became their de-facto leader.

Edge cut a promo this week on Raw that looked a lot like a revision of his original vampire gimmick in the group known as “The Brood” in the late 90’s. This could be a really cool showing of supernatural wrestlers using their spooky magic on a huge stage.

This match will be held inside of Hell in a Cell to prevent the interference of The Judgement Day and also to keep the two warring wrestlers inside. I expect this to be a brutal match that sees “The Demon” picking up a huge win and vanquishing Edge from The Judgement Day for good.

Intercontinental Championship triple-threat: Sheamus vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Gunther (C)

I am so excited for this match, it is hard to put it in words. These three have been going at it with each other for most of the past year, but we are yet to see them all in the ring at the same time.

These are three huge men that love to beat up other large men. Put them in the ring together and let the magic happen.

WWE has already made it increasingly clear that Gunther is the superstar of the future with his record breaking showing in the Royal Rumble this year where he lasted over an hour in the match.

The largest storyline in this match, in my opinion, is the fact that Sheamus has won every title in the WWE EXCEPT for the Intercontinental Championship. I think that this has a serious chance to be the match of the event and I predict that Sheamus will walk out with the IC title.

I also expect Gunther to enter the World Heavyweight Title scene following this match.

SmackDown Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair (C)

In a rematch from Wrestlemania 36, Rhea Ripley faces off against the champion Charlotte Flair. The main difference being the championship being fought over. Three years ago, the pair fought at Wrestlemania over the NXT Women’s Championship.

Many people (myself included) were baffled at the choice to have Flair beat the up and comer Ripley. But, WWE has given themselves a chance to right their wrongs with Ripley being an entirely different animal from who she was all those years ago.

I think this is the time for Flair to pass the torch to Rhea with a clean victory that stamps Ripley as a dominant, monster heel that can rule over the SmackDown Women’s division.

Raw Women’s Championship: Asuka vs. Bianca Belair (C)

Bianca Belair has been Raw Woman’s Champ for quite a while. This year at the Royal Rumble, we got to see the return of Asuka looking a lot like her gimmick from Japan as Kana.

She is one of the most believable fighters on the WWE roster and has been one of my favorites to watch for many years. This should be an absolutely crazy match showing off the athleticism and brutality of both competitors.

I think Asuka should win this match so that she can finally lead the Raw Woman’s division with a proper title win. Also, like I said, Belair has been the champ for almost a year. If she loses the title here, she can take a few months off to rest and then come back better than ever.

Unified Tag Team Championship: Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens vs. The Usos (Jimmy and Jey) (C) with Solo Sikoa

This match should be the culmination of the best story WWE has told in years. The never-ending saga of best friends/enemies Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn has gone on for two decades.

They seem to be on the same page again and look to dethrone The Usos who have held tag-team gold for the last 600+ days. The Usos have accepted Zayn into their family and, more recently, kicked him out in violent fashion.

After Zayn lost to the World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble, he has been scrambling to avenge his loss and to become the mega star the fans want him to be.

I think this will be the feel-good moment of the night as I predict that Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens beat the Usos to become the Unified Tag Team Champions.

Undisputed Universal Championship: Cody Rhodes vs. Roman Reigns (C)

It is finally time for the main event, The Undisputed Universal Championship match between Cody Rhodes and Roman Reigns. Reigns has been champion for over 900 days and Rhodes is looking to do what his father Dusty Rhodes could never do – win the WWE Title.

I didn’t think this match had much substance at first, but after the work that Paul Heyman (Roman’s manager) and Rhodes have been putting in week after week, I’m invested.

This should be a great match with huge implications for the company. I predict that Rhodes will finally dethrone the Tribal Chief and send him packing for quite some time.