*wipes tear from eye*
It’s DRAFT SZN.
After a tumultuous season where the NFL powered through COVID-19 to the inevitable Tom Brady Super Bowl victory, the offseason has finally come ripe with quarterback trade requests (Russell Wilson?) and impending free agent decisions for every team. Teams will look to the NFL Draft to fill those gaps and look for the next talent that will put their team over the hump.
This mock draft is powered by the good people at The Draft Network, and I’m sure that all of these picks will happen in the exact order that I predict.
I purposely did no trades, but I could see many pick swaps happening in the first round.
So, folks, let’s hop right into it!
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
2. New York Jets: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
The Jets are bringing in a new head coach in Robert Saleh, and a new offensive coordinator in Mike LaFleur. This will probably mean they draft a QB, and if it weren’t for Lawrence, Fields would be the best QB in the class.
3. Miami Dolphins (via Houston Texans): Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Miami is in a really good spot here. They have their choice of blue chip prospect at two positions of need (WR and OT). It would be absolutely poetic if the pick the Dolphins got in a trade for a blue chip tackle were to bring in another blue chip tackle.
4. Atlanta Falcons: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
I don’t think the Falcons leave the first round without drafting their QB of the future. Whether that be Wilson here or trading back to draft Trey Lance, Arthur Smith is going to draft someone to be the eventual successor to Matt Ryan. Wilson has a lightning quick release and excels outside the pocket.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
I could honestly see the Bengals going with Rashawn Slater, the OT from Northwestern here, but the LSU connection is too good to pass up. Chase is considered to be the best WR in a loaded class, and his connection with current Bengals franchise QB Joe Burrow should lead to fireworks.
6. Philadelphia Eagles: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Honestly, the Eagles need a LOT of help...everywhere. If new Eagles HC Nick Sirianni isn’t sold on QB Jalen Hurts, this is another place where Trey Lance could end up. Ultimately I think they settle for the Heisman Trophy winner who set records at Alabama so, that’s a win? Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson are no longer Eagles, which leaves the WR room looking like the Land of Misfit Toys. Smith gives that room an instant facelift, and an easy target for Hurts.
7. Detroit Lions: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
So this is the first curveball in a trade-less draft. I’ve had Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle here for a while, but that Detroit defense is bad EVERYWHERE. Pairing Surtain II with Jeff Okudah sets up the Lions with two promising young guys on the outside, and gives that defense an instant boost.
8. Carolina Panthers: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
The Panthers have been linked to trades for Matthew Stafford, Deshaun Watson, and pretty much every other QB on the market. Teddy Bridgewater isn’t the future in Carolina, and Panthers coach Matt Rhule knows this. In Lance, they get a guy who can sit behind Bridgewater and develop, then when he’s ready, provide more of a dual threat at the position than the incumbent.
9. Denver Broncos: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
The Broncos recently released CB AJ Bouye, which leaves a hole in the Broncos defensive backfield. Farley is a plug and play prospect with elite traits and production at Virginia Tech, which is especially needed in a division with Tyreek Hill and Keenan Allen.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
The Cowboys really wished Farley or Surtain would have fallen to them at 10, because their defensive backfield is not very good. Ultimately, they take the best player available in Slater. The old Cowboys offensive line is falling apart, with many of the original starters missing time due to injury. Slater can play RT or LT, and his elite technical prowess makes him a Day-One starter.
11. New York Giants: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Quick, name a Giants wide receiver! Can’t? Well with Waddle Daniel Jones gets an elite field stretcher with untapped potential.
12. San Francisco 49ers: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
I heavily considered going Kyle Pitts here, but ultimately decided on Cosmi for a Niners team that is in an odd position. Trent Williams is about to be 33, but is coming off of an elite season. If Williams chooses to walk in free agency, Cosmi could be the heir apparent.
13. Los Angeles Chargers: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
Justin Herbert had a phenomenal rookie season, ultimately ending in a Rookie of the Year award. The Chargers go and get him some help up front with Darrisaw, who has elite athleticism plus experience.
14. Minnesota Vikings: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
The Yannick Ngakoue experience didn’t go well for Minnesota, and he was shipped to Baltimore six games into his Vikings tenure. Paye is a powerful edge rusher who can be a nice complement to Danielle Hunter.
15. New England Patriots: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
This feels like cheating. How the Patriots will continue to build their evil empire will be by adding a Autobot at TE. Going into next season the Patriots will reload on defense, getting back most of their opt outs from the previous season. Adding Pitts gives them an instant shot in the arm on offense.
16. Arizona Cardinals: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
Even before parting ways with former All Pro CB Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals needed to address the CB position. Horn is a competitive, physical CB who can step in and be a bookend in the secondary along with Budda Baker.
17. Las Vegas Raiders: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
How Micah Parsons falls this far is unbeknownst to me, but the Raiders will happily scoop him up at 17. The Raiders defense is in need of a facelift, especially at the linebacker position. Parsons offers scheme versatility and blitzing potential.
18. Miami Dolphins: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Rashod Bateman is an underrated name in this WR class, but he could have one of the best careers out of all of the receivers. The Dolphins need playmaking on the outside to help QB Tua Tagovailoa, or possibly Deshaun Watson? Maybe? Hmmm....
19. Washington Football Team: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT, USC
Vera-Tucker is a scheme versatile lineman who can play guard or tackle, and for the Football Team, protection should be at a premium. Brandon Scherff is a free agent, and while I think he re-signs, they do need help along the front. Washington needs a QB, but I don’t think they are crazy enough to take any QB outside the top four in Round One...
20. Chicago Bears: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
BUT CHICAGO IS! Hear me out: I don’t think Mac Jones SHOULD go in the first round. However, I think QB-needy teams later on in the draft will take him in the first round. Chicago is one of those teams, and I don’t think they can successfully trade for Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson. Mac Jones gives them a high floor and a serviceable Mitch Trubisky replacement.
21. Indianapolis Colts: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
By trading for Carson Wentz, the Colts are signaling that they are trying to make a run for a title right now. With Anthony Castonzo retiring, and how Carson Wentz seemingly turns into a potato under pressure, offensive tackle should be a premium. Jenkins is a powerful man, and can play on the left or right side.
22. Tennessee Titans: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
The Titans seriously need pass rush help. Near the end of the season they couldn’t generate any pressure, which was one of the reasons of their demise in the playoffs. Ojulari is a hyper-quick pass rusher with refined hand technique.
23. New York Jets (via Seattle Seahawks): Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
The Jets need pass rush help, and they fill that need here with Rousseau. He has a large frame and all of the athleticism to dominate on the edge, and if anyone can coach up defensive players to get to their potential, it’s Robert Saleh.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
So, the Steelers find themselves in a bit of a pickle. They could go with a WR here, just in case Juju Smith-Schuster walks in free agency. If they decide to keep Juju, they’ll have to address their problems along the offensive line, especially with Maurkice Pouncey retiring. However, James Conner plans on testing free agency, and with that being in mind, the Steelers take the best RB in the draft. Harris’ contact balance and receiving skills are phenomenal for a guy his size.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Los Angeles Rams): Christian Barmore, iDL, Alabama
The steady flow of Alabama players continues with a dominant defensive tackle going to the Jaguars here. With a move to the 3-4 defense on the horizon, the Jaguars are in need of a dominant 5-technique (Taven Bryan is NOT IT, folks). Barmore has the pass rush potential and dominant play to be a force alongside Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson along a revamped Jaguars front.
26. Cleveland Browns: Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
The Browns need a complement to their all-world pass rusher Myles Garrett, and Phillips provides more of a instant plug and play ability than his other pass rushers at Miami. His size along with his refined technique make him an easy fit in Cleveland’s 4-3 scheme.
27. Baltimore Ravens: Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
The Ravens could go offensive line here, depending on what happens with Orlando Brown Jr. But if the Ravens keep the Pro Bowl OT, I think they go receiver to give Lamar Jackson a true outside threat. Marshall is a scheme versatile player who has played in the slot and outside, and his big play ability would fit the Ravens well.
28. New Orleans Saints: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Demario Davis is an All-Pro and will be the mainstay of the Saints defense, but they need to get better at the second level. Owusu Koramoah gives them a speedy ‘backer who will fly to the ball if he’s kept clean and out of traffic.
29. Green Bay Packers: Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
This is one of my favorite picks to mock, because I think the fit is exceptional. The Packers can address receiver later in the draft due to a loaded class, but Bolton provides a shot of energy into a Packers second level that sorely needs it. They recently let go of Chris Kirksey, and Bolton’s hard-hitting, downhill style will fix up the holes in the middle of the Cheesehead’s defense.
30. Buffalo Bills: Zaven Collins, LB Tulsa
Matt Milano is heading into free agency, and if the Bills decide to let him walk, Collins is a perfect replacement. His instincts and big play ability off the ball makes him a perfect fit next to Tremaine Edmunds in the middle of that Buffalo defense.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: Kadarious Toney, WR, Florida
I mean this would just be dastardly wouldn’t it? The most explosive offense in the NFL gets another playmaker in Toney who can take the ball to the house on one touch. He’ll come in and replace Mecole Hardman at receiver and take returns. Also, I made this pick solely to imagine the content from this Chiefs offense.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas
If Shaq Barrett walks in free agency, the Bucs will need to fill a huge hole on the edge to revamp for another Super Bowl run. Ossai gives Tampa a long frame and strong hands to complement Jason Pierre-Paul on that Bucs front.
Let me hear your thoughts in the comments! What picks do you like and dislike?