The NFL draft is right around the corner. This is about the time in the year when smoke screens and truth become one. Creating a huge pile of rumors that anyone creating a mock draft has to sort out. In this mock draft, we are going to tackle every pick and give an explanation behind the madness. Buckle up.
Pick 1: Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence, Clemson QB
This is a no brainer. Of course there will be the smoke screens that tell you Justin Fields or Zach Wilson is actually the future franchise QB of the Jaguars. These simply aren’t true. Trevor Lawrence will be the #1 pick and he will suit up for Duval County, a team in desperate need of a hero.
Pick 2: New York Jets – Zach Wilson, BYU QB
This is going to be the first big question mark in the draft. Will the Jets go with Wilson? Will they want Fields instead? Will they trade out of this pick and stick with Darnold? Will they trade out of this pick for a different QB? These are all viable options, but I think they won’t pass on a talented prospect like Wilson. There will be growing pains, but Wilson has elite potential, and the Jets would be a step closer to putting a competitive team on the field with Zach Wilson under center.
Pick 3: Miami Dolphins (via Houston Texans) – Devonta Smith, Alabama WR
It was hard to resist the urge to have Miami trade out of this 3rd spot, or take OT Penei Sewell. I truly believe that they are in a tough spot though. They need to have a decision made about Tua Tagovailoa by the end of this season. This is a championship roster if they get elite QB play. The best way to maximize the play of Tua would be to get him his old receiver from college. This is a match made in heaven. Drafting a Heisman winning WR to maximize the play of his former college QB is the kind of move that people look back on years from now as a deciding factor in the future of Miami Dolphins football.
Pick 4: Atlanta Falcons – Justin Fields, Ohio State QB
The Atlanta Falcons are a team with many holes. QB is not one of them. However, they have a new GM and head coach coming in. This is the kind of power move that new GM-head coach tandems often make. Justin Fields would probably be second on the depth chart to start his career. This would benefit him greatly, as many scouts see his mental processing as a major weakness. Spending his first season learning behind a former MVP would help.
Pick 5: Cincinnati Bengals – Penei Sewell, Oregon OL
This was the most difficult decision of a very difficult mock draft. There will be many voices within the Cincinnati Bengals organization that lobby for a Joe Burrow-Ja’Marr Chase reunion. While this would be a dynamic duo, Burrow would spend every other snap running backwards away from defenders rather than throwing dimes to Chase. The Bengals O-Line is atrocious. This is a deep receiver class that can provide viable options in later rounds. You have to protect the face of your franchise, and Sewell is the best O-Line prospect in this draft by a mile. Protect Joe at all costs, Cincinnati.
Pick 6: Philadelphia Eagles – Ja’Marr Chase, LSU WR
This would be a blessing for Philadelphia. They blew it last year when they picked Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson. They won’t let this LSU pass catcher slip through their finger tips. Chase is a bonafide WR1, and he offers immediate production for Jalen Hurts and the rest of the new-look Eagles offense. Ja’Marr Chase would be a bright spot in any offense, and he’ll have his work cut out for him in Philadelphia.
Pick 7: Washington Football Team (via Detroit Lions) – Trey Lance, NDSU QB
The second trade of the top 10 is made between the Football Team and the Lions. The Lions are a team that would benefit from trading back and adding more picks, and Washington needs a QB. Moving up 12 spots is not going to be easy, but they’ll do it for a guy like Trey Lance. The defense for Washington is already championship-caliber, making a big move for your franchise QB is the first step to getting the offense to that level as well. Trey Lance to Terry McLaurin could be quite a sight for Washington Football Team fans for years to come.
Pick 8: Houston Texans (via Carolina Panthers) – Rashawn Slater, Northwestern OL
This is a bold pick that is made assuming that Carolina gets a deal done for Deshaun Watson, who will most likely not be suiting up for Houston ever again. The Texans will be the worst team in football if that’s the case. They’ll have holes to fill at every position. Teddy Bridgewater would most likely be their QB if this trade gets done, meaning they would opt to fill a more glaring need. This would be a “best player available” pick, and could give a horrid Texans team a great offensive lineman across from Laremy Tunsil, though it’ll take more than that to make this team even close to competitive.
Pick 9: Arizona Cardinals (via Denver Broncos) – Kyle Pitts, Florida TE
Kyle Pitts is the best tight end prospect in recent memory, he has all the traits to be one of the best tight ends in football right away. Arizona is a team that could use an elite tight end to bolster their “air raid” style offense. They would probably have to trade up to grab this elite prospect, and it will definitely be worth it. Pitts would make the Arizona offense even scarier, and could help them make an under-the-radar Super Bowl run as early as his rookie season.
Pick 10: Dallas Cowboys – Micah Parsons, Penn State LB
There are a number of holes in this Dallas team, and they’ll have to be smart in the draft to fill them cheaply if they sign Dak Prescott to the mega-deal that is being rumored. They could’ve gone with a corner or offensive lineman here, but Parsons is just too good of a fit to pass up on. A guy with top 5 talent plagued by character concerns is the kind of guy that the Cowboys are famous for bringing in. Parsons will flourish in Dallas if he stays out of trouble off the field, and he can shore up an oft-injured and streaky linebacker corps in Dallas.
Pick 11: New York Giants – Jaylen Waddle, Alabama WR
Jaylen Waddle has all the traits to be the best receiver in this deep WR class, yet he’s the third to come off the board. The main reason for this is his injury trouble. The Giants should overlook this and consider it a blessing that a receiver of Waddle’s talent is available at the 11th pick. Waddle immediately becomes the best receiver on this team and bolsters a WR room that will be catching passes from Daniel Jones in his last effort to prove himself as a franchise QB. Adding Waddle to this offense could help Jones break through, or make it increasingly obvious that Jones isn’t the guy. Regardless of who he’s catching passes from, Waddle has the talent and skill set to be the WR1 in most NFL offenses and the Giants should not let him fall past this pick.
Pick 12: San Francisco 49ers – Christian Darrisaw. VA Tech OL
There are rumors swirling about the QB situation of the 49ers, but they are just rumors. The 49ers fell victim to the injury bug last year, and it derailed their plans of making it back to the Super Bowl. Some analysts believe that they’ll try and replace Jimmy G, but I think people forget that he is a year removed from leading the 49ers to a Super Bowl. Bolster your offensive line to protect him, pray the injury bug doesn’t come back, and let it play out. Don’t blow it up after a disappointing and injury-riddled year. Darrisaw is a safe O-Line pick that can replace Trent Williams and help this well rounded team trying to bounce back from a disappointing 2020 season.
Pick 13: Los Angeles Chargers – Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC OL
The Chargers are a team on the rise with no glaring issues. There are little weaknesses on the O-Line, in the secondary, and they may need to replenish their defensive front also. This will most likely be a “best player available” pick for the Chargers. Adding a solid offensive lineman at this pick would be a great plan. They have their QB of the future, a solid WR corps, a good defense, and a fresh head coach who should have a better record in one score games. All the Chargers need to do is avoid injuries, win close games, and protect Justin Herbert. The best way to accomplish that last one is to take Vera-Tucker here.
Pick 14: Minnesota Vikings – Patrick Surtain II, Alabama CB
Patrick Surtain is one of the best CB prospects I’ve watched on tape. This is a thin defensive class, but Surtain is among the best in it. If he somehow falls to Minnesota, they should take him with full confidence to boost their secondary which is very thin and in need of a true CB1. Surtain has lined up across from numerous receivers who are now at the NFL level, so he should be able to produce and succeed early on and provide a weak Minnesota defense with a bright spot very quickly into his career.
Pick 15: New England Patriots – Mac Jones, Alabama QB
Mac Jones was once a third string quarterback behind Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa, but he earned the starting job after Hurts and Tua both moved on (they are now both NFL starting QBs). All he did after securing the starting gig was lead Alabama to a national championship and statistically outperform his two predecessors in almost every passing category. While there is a fair chance someone trades up and takes Jones, there is also a real possibility that New England’s future QB falls right into their lap at the 15th pick. That’s the New England luck of course. Jones is not much of a runner, but he is one of the most polished and pro-ready passers in this class, maybe even the most polished and pro-ready. His receivers in New England would end up being worse than his receivers in college, but if New England makes some moves to improve their offense around Jones, expect Belicheck to somehow get this team back into the playoffs with Jones under center.
Pick 16: Denver Broncos (via Arizona Cardinals) – Caleb Farley, VA Tech CB
This is part of the compensation that Denver would receive for trading the 9th pick to the Arizona Cardinals. The Broncos seem to be willing to let Drew Lock have another chance to prove himself, so they won’t be in the market for a QB in this portion of the draft. With a fairly complete offense outside of QB, the Broncos need to resupply the defense in some areas that were filled by key veterans who are no longer under contract. It makes a lot of sense for the Broncos to take Farley, who some scouts have ranked ahead of Surtain II. Farley would help a thin CB room in Denver and give Justin Simmons some much needed help in the secondary. Denver should not pass on a talented corner like Caleb Farley if he falls into their laps on draft night, especially after trading back.
Pick 17: Las Vegas Raiders – Kwity Paye, Michigan DE
This Las Vegas Raiders team has many holes to fill on defense. It’s a sigh of relief that they are finally giving Derek Carr the respect that he deserves and not being a part of the rumored QB carousel, so hopefully GM Mike Mayock makes a wise decision with this pick and goes for a defensive player. The Raiders could use help at pretty much every defensive position, but adding a defensive end is probably the biggest. They failed to generate consistent pass rush for much of last season and the Maxx Crosby breakout year never really happened. Adding Kwity Paye could take some pressure off of Crosby and elevate the play of the whole defense.
Pick 18: Miami Dolphins – Najee Harris, Alabama RB
After picking one Alabama star at #3, they’ll keep the trend going and get the best running back in this draft with the 18th pick. Harris provides consistent RB performance for a team that had virtually no consistency in its run game last season and completes the Crimson Tide trifecta in Miami. Tua Tagovailoa, Devonta Smith, and Najee Harris running the offense would most likely be a welcomed site by the Miami Dolphins organization and fan base alike, and Alabama football fans might find themselves watching Dolphins games on Sunday too. Miami could use O-Line improvement later in the draft, but using their two first round picks for skilled offensive weapons might be too enticing for a team looking to make a deep playoff run next season.
Pick 19: Detroit Lions (via Washington Football Team) – Jaycee Horn, South Carolina CB
Detroit just traded away Matthew Stafford, the man that kept them from their second 0-16 season in franchise history every year since being drafted. Jared Goff is a solid QB who should find atleast a temporary home in Detroit, meaning the Lions could address needs at other positions. Trading back from the 7th pick and netting a bunch of picks in return makes sense for Detroit, as they are already stocking up on picks thanks to the Matthew Stafford trade. I don’t agree with some analysts projecting a receiver coming in the first round, there are way bigger needs to fill. They were the worst defense in the NFL and just released Desmond Trufant, their CB1 last season. They need Okudah to step up in year 2, and they need a guy to line up across from him. Jaycee Horn has gotten top 15 consideration, but I believe he’ll go after Surtain and Farley. The Lions are not going to be in the playoff picture this year, but adding the right defensive pieces in this draft will be key to getting them closer in future years. Jaycee Horn is a smart pick that keeps the secondary in Detroit from being a total disgrace, though they still have a long way to go.
Pick 20: Seattle Seahawks (via Chicago Bears) – Wyatt Davis, OL
Seahawks fans should probably avert their eyes on this one. This pick would be one of the many coming to Seattle in a Russell Wilson blockbuster trade with the Chicago Bears. Is this too bold? Probably. However, GM Ryan Pace is on thin ice and I don’t think a man fighting for his job wants to run it back with Trubisky and Foles at QB again. Seahawks use their first pick post-Russell Wilson on a talented guard in Wyatt Davis. They’ll elect to go for their future QB in free agency if they do trade away Wilson. Davis bolsters the line immediately with consistent play on the interior of an O-Line that is going to have its hands full against the other stout defensive fronts in the NFC West.
Pick 21: Indianapolis Colts – Gregory Rousseau, Miami DE
With the addition of Carson Wentz, the Colts no longer need to ponder a trade up scenario to get their franchise QB. The Colts are one of the most complete teams in the league and poised to make a deep playoff run. This pick will probably be another “best player available” pick on the defensive side. Their offensive line could use some extra depth, but with so many solid defensive players still littered across the board here, they’ll elect to take one of them in Rousseau. They are in need of a cornerback to play across from Rhodes, and a defensive end to play up front with Buckner, and Rousseau offers more value than any of the corners still on the board here. This pick could be a trade out scenario as well, but it seems unlikely. Colts grab Rousseau to bolster their defensive line as they make a run at the Super Bowl this year.
Pick 22: Tennessee Titans – Alex Leatherwood, Alabama OL
After letting Jack Conklin walk in free agency and having Taylor Lewan tear his ACL, the Titans were very thin at offensive tackle last season. While Lewan will be back, they’ll need to address the position sooner rather than later in this draft to keep Tannehill protected and open holes for Derrick Henry. Leatherwood is a long-time staple of the Alabama O-Line and will provide consistent production as early as his rookie season if needed. The Titans will need to address receiver at some point in this draft, but this pick would be best used on getting a solid addition to a thin offensive line in Tennessee. This receiver class is deep enough to get talent in later rounds, a player like Leatherwood shouldn’t be available much later than this pick.
Pick 23: New York Jets (via Seattle Seahawks) – Travis Etienne, Clemson RB
Travis Etienne was often overlooked because he was lined up behind quarterbacks such as Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence during his time at Clemson. He was quietly one of the most productive college running backs in recent memory. He is a solid receiving back as well, which should help a thin WR corps in New York. Etienne has the chance to take the lead back role in New York as early as his rookie year. Etienne could very well end up being the best running back in this draft and will hopefully give Jets fans something to cheer about next season. The Jets take their QB and RB of the future in the first round of this draft, but they still have some work to do to get into playoff contention.
Pick 24: Pittsburgh Steelers – Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma OL
After the emotional display by Ben Roethlisberger and Maurkice Pouncey during their playoff loss last season, Pouncey decided to retire from the NFL. This leaves a huge hole in an otherwise solid offensive line. Creed Humphrey played most of his snaps at center for the Oklahoma offense and may need to step in and play center at the NFL level right away. This pick is a no-brainer, and Humphrey should help that O-Line protect Big Ben is what could be his last season as the Steelers try and finish stronger than they did last season.
Pick 25: Jacksonville Jaguars (via Los Angeles Rams) – Brevin Jordan, Miami TE
There are plenty of positions that the Jaguars could elect to go with at this pick. They have their QB of the foreseeable future in Lawrence, but are thin at almost every other position. Brevin Jordan could improve the tight end position for a Jaguars team that had virtually no production from this position last season. Analysts debate which tight end will be the second off the board between Brevin Jordan and Pat Freiermuth, and the Jaguars will have to make a decision between these two guys. I think Jordan has a higher ceiling and will provide this Jaguars team with consistent play at the tight end position for years to come, although the Jaguars offensive line and defense are probably still not strong enough to make a playoff push in 2021. They make two smart decisions in the first round of this draft to make the team more competitive than last year’s 1-15 squad.
Pick 26: Cleveland Browns – Christian Barmore, Alabama DT
The Browns are another team with no major weaknesses. They’ll get Grant Delpit back to shore up their secondary and Odell Beckham Jr. should help their receiving corps once he’s healthy enough to suit up. They could use another defensive line piece to complement Myles Garrett, and that’s what they elect to do with this pick. Barmore is the top defensive tackle in a very weak class of them in this draft. He may get the chance to start as a rookie and improve the defensive front of a Cleveland Browns team that is trying to make a run at the Super Bowl.
Pick 27: Baltimore Ravens – Rashod Bateman, Minnesota WR
It would be a no-brainer and welcomed surprise for the Ravens if Bateman fell into their laps at the 27th pick. They have one of the weakest receiving groups in the league and addressing the position in free agency may not be enough. Bateman was a star at Minnesota and could see immediate playing time for a Ravens offense that needs a spark at the position. He could find himself catching passes from Lamar Jackson, and Ravens fans should be ecstatic at the thought of Bateman slipping down this far in the draft.
Pick 28: New Orleans Saints – Trevon Moehrig, TCU S
The Saints were one of the most complete teams in the NFL last season. They ended their season in perfect Saints fashion, with another heartbreaking playoff loss. They are now deep in cap trouble and could have to let many key free agents walk as well as cutting other veteran players. Moehrig is a player who could play safety and linebacker at the NFL level. The Saints may need him to play both in his rookie season. He could be replacing Marcus Williams, Malcolm Jenkins, or Kwon Alexander on a New Orleans team that is trying to fight regression with a quarterback not named Drew Brees for the first time since 2006.
Pick 29: Green Bay Packers – Rondale Moore, Purdue WR
The Packers are a great team, but there are a few holes in their roster. The biggest is a WR2 behind Davante Adams. There is another hole in the roster at CB2 across from Jaire Alexander, but Rondale Moore is better than any cornerback still on the board. Aaron Rodgers is already probably annoyed by the front office’s inability to add a solid receiver across from Adams, and taking Jordan Love last year didn’t make Rodgers any happier. Green Bay needs to address this position now and help the league MVP. Adding a cornerback and offensive line later in the draft is fine, get A-Rod is WR2 before his patience runs out.
Pick 30: Buffalo Bills – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoa, Notre Dame LB
The Bills made it all the way to the AFC championship game last season after Josh Allen took a huge leap towards stardom. The Bills team on the field next season will be very similar to the one last season. They are returning many starters and are looking to make another run. An unrestricted free agent that will probably depart is Matt Milano. This would leave a sizable hole at the linebacker position. Owusu-Koramoa could fill this hole for the Bills. Some scouts like Dylan Moses more than him, but I think the Bills elect to take Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoa to fill one of the few holes on this roster as they try and dethrone the Chiefs in the AFC and win a Super Bowl next season.
Pick 31: Kansas City Chiefs – Samuel Cosmi, Texas OL
If you watched the Super Bowl, you probably remember two things: The Weeknd stumbling through a bright room during his half time performance and becoming a meme, and Patrick Mahomes running for his life. After both of his starting offensive tackles went down with injury, Mahomes was absolutely swarmed by Buccaneer defenders for 60 minutes in the Super Bowl. Samuel Cosmi is a great prospect that gives the Kansas City Chiefs more insurance in case of future injuries to their offensive line. This is a well rounded roster with few holes, but the Super Bowl exposed one of the few holes. The Chiefs may be the best team in the league, but they’ll have to learn from their Super Bowl loss last season. Take Cosmi and bolster your line, and then watch what Patrick Mahomes can do in a Super Bowl when he isn’t running backwards all game.
Pick 32: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jaelan Phillips, Miami DE
The Buccaneers are a Super Bowl winning team with a lot of free agents to retain. They probably won’t be able to keep every free agent, but should be able to keep the ones that they need the most. With no major holes in the roster, they’ll probably just draft a player that can replace any free agent that they lose during the off-season. Phillips is a player with extreme talent that some analysts think could go in the top 15, while others project him in the second or third round. The Buccaneers are a team that have a great scheme to fit Phillips, and they could use him as a replacement for either Shaquil Barrett or Ndamukong Suh if needed. Todd Bowles is capable of maximizing Jaelan Phillips’ talent and that would only make the defending Super Bowl champions even scarier.