With the NFL’s regular season ending earlier this month and the deadline passing for underclassmen who’ve declared to withdraw from NFL draft consideration last week, some of the lead NFL draft experts are releasing new mock drafts.
Three players with Utah ties ended up in a survey of nine mock drafts released over the past two weeks, including two former Utes who declared for the draft.
The mock drafts used for this article came from CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, The Athletic’s Dane Brugler, CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson, NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks, The 33rd Team, USA Today’s Luke Easterling, Pro Football Focus’ Mike Renner and College Football News’ Pete Fiutak.
Of those, only Brooks and Renner didn’t have a Utah tie being taken in the draft’s first round.
Here’s a look at what Utah ties are being viewed as first-round talents in the early stages of the NFL draft process.
Defensive tackle, East High (played collegiately at LSU and Baylor)
Where Ika is being projected in January mock drafts:
- No. 20 to Seattle Seahawks — CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso and College Football News’ Pete Fiutak.
- No. 26 to Dallas Cowboys — The Athletic’s Dane Brugler and USA Today’s Luke Easterling.
- CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso wrote: “Ika is a big-time specimen at around 330 or 340 pounds. He’s the large human being — with impressive athleticism — the Seahawks need along their defensive line.”
- The Athletic’s Dane Brugler wrote: “History tells us this won’t be the pick — the Cowboys haven’t drafted a defensive tackle in the top 50 since Russell Maryland at No. 1 in 1991. However, the Cowboys are committed to upgrading their defense and Ika would give them a boulder in the middle of the line. At 355 pounds, Ika is a hard guy to move at the point of attack, but he also has the short-area quickness to be disruptive.”
Tight end, Utah
Where Kincaid is being projected in January mock drafts:
- No. 21 to Los Angeles Chargers — NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah.
- No. 25 to Jacksonville Jaguars — CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson.
- No. 29 to Denver Broncos — The 33rd Team.
- Of note: Another expert, The Athletic’s Dane Brugler, projected the second round and had the Green Bay Packers using the No. 45 overall pick on Kincaid.
- NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah wrote: “Kincaid is a little older and coming off an injury, but his tape is outstanding. His short-area quickness is phenomenal, and he is incredibly tough and productive with the ball in his hands.”
- CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson wrote: “Kincaid could end up being one of the best rookie offensive weapons in 2023, especially if Doug Pederson uses him like the Jags used Evan Engram in ’22. Engram and two other Jacksonville TEs are currently free agents though the team could certainly decide to re-up the former Giants first-rounder who is coming off a career year. Even still, Kincaid would only make Trevor Lawrence’s life easier in ‘23.”
- The 33rd Team wrote: “When your quarterback is struggling, give him good tight end play. Kincaid is a true mismatch tight end who can stretch the defense.”
Clark Phillips III
Where Phillips is being projected in January mock drafts