Trevor Lawrence has been penciled in as the No. 1 decide in this draft for 2 years, and I contemplate it refreshing that he and the Jaguars haven’t discovered it essential to ship fake smoke screens to stoke false intrigue. However there’s loads of actual intrigue about the remainder of the QB class after Lawrence and Zach Wilson: Whom did Kyle Shanahan commerce up for? Will the Patriots make a transfer for a QB and who will it’s? Will 5 QBs be drafted in the prime 10, which didn’t even occur in the Great Quarterback Boom of 1983? This 12 months’s draft class additionally features a novel issue in evaluations, both in evaluating movie from an atypical 2020 faculty soccer season or in assessing gamers who opted out final 12 months because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However as Invoice Belichick advised reporters final week, “It’s possibly a bit of bit much less data than we usually have, however all groups are working with the identical basic data.” That characterization is a bit too on the nostril for us hapless mock drafters—in any 12 months. Right here’s this 12 months’s strive.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Two years in the past, Albert Breer and I carried out a ballot of NFL decision-makers at the spring league conferences, asking: May any faculty soccer participant go one-and-done into the NFL? This was the spring of 2019, proper after Lawrence’s true freshman 12 months at Clemson. “If he got here out, he’d be the first decide in the draft this 12 months,” one profitable GM mentioned of Lawrence. His arrival in the NFL has been long-awaited, which is why the Jaguars haven’t even tried to maintain up the charade.
2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
It’s no secret the Jets are going QB at No. 2 after they traded Sam Darnold to the Panthers. It could be a heck of a smoke display, with not a lot level, if that decide just isn’t BYU’s Wilson. He has an unbelievable arm and a capability to make tough throws on the transfer, although he’ll face a steep adjustment to the NFL from the competitors stage he confronted in his breakout 2020 season. The Jets are able to reset the clock with one other rookie QB, however to succeed they’ll should keep away from the roster-building pitfalls and revolving teaching door that stunted Darnold’s improvement.
3. San Francisco 49ers (from Texans through Dolphins): Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
The final time QBs went 1-2-3 in the NFL draft was in 1999, with Tim Sofa to the Browns, Donovan McNabb to the Eagles and Akili Smith to the Bengals. The 49ers’ commerce as much as No. 3 assured this may once more occur this draft—however what’s much less clear is which QB they’ll select. Shanahan likes to maintain issues near the vest, so there haven’t been numerous professional tea leaves to learn. However you solely make that large of a soar in case you are going after a very particular participant, and the 22-year-old Fields in Shanahan’s bootleg/play-action scheme is a tantalizing pairing.
4. Atlanta Falcons: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
I mucked up the MMQB Podcast’s mock draft extravaganza by assigning the Falcons a non-QB, and I’m right here to do it once more. The draft actually begins this 12 months at No. 4, and the Falcons might go in myriad instructions. Matt Ryan’s contract restructure to offer the crew cap aid doesn’t preclude Atlanta from taking a QB, however the huge dead-cap fees the crew would accrue by chopping or buying and selling him in 2021 or ’22 makes it very probably Ryan can be the crew’s QB the subsequent two seasons. With that in thoughts, I’m giving the Falcons the greatest offensive lineman in this 12 months’s class, somebody who will instantly enhance the run sport, off which every part else in Arthur Smith’s offense relies upon. If the Falcons are usually not going to take a QB in the first spherical, they’d probably look to commerce down—however that depends upon discovering a accomplice keen to return up this excessive for the fourth QB left on the board.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
There isn’t a better precedence for the Bengals than to repair their offensive line. A receiver like Joe Burrow’s former faculty teammate Ja’Marr Chase is perhaps tempting, however as Burrow returns from his season-ending left knee damage, which included a torn ACL, the most important issue for his future success is robust offensive line play. We’re giving them the greatest sort out on the board at their decide, which in this train is Slater, who would make a powerful bookend pairing with left sort out Jonah Williams, the crew’s 2019 first-round decide.
6. Miami Dolphins (through Eagles): Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
In the identical 12 months Belichick spent near $90 million in free company on a pair of tight ends, Pitts stands to be drafted uncommonly excessive for his place. The final tight finish to be drafted sixth was Vernon Davis in 2006—and it’s potential Pitts will go even increased than this slot. After shifting all the way down to No. 12, Miami got here again as much as No. 6 for a playmaker for second-year QB Tua Tagovailoa. Pitts is a flexible offensive weapon made for right now’s NFL, able to lining up in-line, in the slot or break up out as an X receiver. In simply eight video games final season for the Gators, Pitts pulled down 12 TDs—amounting to at least one rating each 4 catches. Pitts would pair with Mike Gesicki for a formidable two-tight finish set, like these favored by Brian Flores’s former crew in Foxboro.
7. Detroit Lions: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Possibly Jared Goff isn’t the reply in Detroit, however in order to offer him—or any QB the Lions begin—an opportunity, they want a real No. 1 receiver. This 12 months’s draft class is deep at the receiver place, however just like final 12 months, there’s a trio that stands above the others (Chase, Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith). The Lions, who let Kenny Golladay go away in free company, are in good place to get one in every of these three.
8. New England Patriots (through projected commerce with the Panthers): Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
That “It’s happening!” GIF can be the common response if Belichick traded into the prime 10 for a QB after by no means drafting one increased than decide No. 62 (a stat that sounds extra important than it’s, on condition that Tom Brady was his starter for 19 of Belichick’s seasons as a head coach). However this has been an offseason not like some other for the Patriots. Weeks after Brady received a Tremendous Bowl elsewhere, they went on a free-agency spending spree, in half to make up for his or her accrued draft misses. Now, might they be so daring to maneuver up for a QB? It’s by no means smart to learn an excessive amount of into one thing Belichick says to the media, however in his predraft press convention he introduced up the concept of shifting up for a participant, saying, “Possibly at 12, 13, he’s nonetheless on the board and you actually thought that he’d be gone in the prime six, seven picks. Then the query comes, do you progress up and attempt to get that participant that’s fallen a bit of bit?” On this situation now we have New England shifting up a bit additional than that, leapfrogging the QB-needy Broncos to snag Lance, an intriguing prospect who would have time to develop behind Cam Newton.
9. Denver Broncos: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
The Broncos have a brand new GM, George Paton, who may have an opportunity to do what John Elway couldn’t: Discover the subsequent nice younger Broncos QB after Elway. They haven’t sought an improve to their 2019 second-round decide, Drew Lock, but this offseason, so draft day can be the fact serum for his or her plans with him. It’s definitely inside purpose that they might commerce as much as No. 4—as esteemed Weak-Aspect Podcast co-host Conor Orr drew up in his mock draft final week—if there’s an accessible QB they love. However Paton has additionally talked about persevering with the philosophy from Minnesota of buying as many draft picks as potential to have extra probabilities of getting good gamers. Right here now we have them standing pat at No. 9 and having the ability to take the fifth QB, who in this train is Jones, thought by many evaluators to be a lower-ceiling/higher-floor prospect.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
The Cowboys had been thrilled final 12 months that receiver CeeDee Lamb was nonetheless accessible for them at decide No. 17. They’d be simply as thrilled if right here they might snag Surtain, seen as the draft’s greatest CB, who can be a really perfect match for brand spanking new DC Dan Quinn’s protection and has the potential to be a long-term repair for Dallas’s most obvious deficiency.
11. New York Giants: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
The Giants already added Golladay in free company, but when a participant like Waddle is obtainable, they might be hard-pressed to go up one other weapon, to see whether or not Daniel Jones could make a leap ahead in 12 months three. You might have heard a few times that Joe Choose labored below Nick Saban at Alabama, a connection they trusted in drafting Xavier McKinney final 12 months, and which can assist them assess each Waddle and his faculty teammate Smith in this 12 months’s draft.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (from 49ers through Dolphins): DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Large determination right here for the Eagles: receiver or cornerback? After they traded down from No. 6 to 12, they made clear they weren’t taking a QB this 12 months, however knew they’d nonetheless be in good place to take one in every of the prime gamers at their positions of want. If 5 QBs do in truth go in the prime 10, it’s potential the Eagles might get a steal with one in every of the two Alabama receivers. This may make two straight years for Philly taking a receiver in the first spherical, however the want is so acute, particularly in the event that they need to give Jalen Hurts a good shake this season.
13. Los Angeles Chargers: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
The Chargers fortified the inside of their offensive line in free company, signing former Packers middle Corey Linsley and ex-Steelers guard Matt Feiler, however new head coach Brandon Staley has acknowledged “the gap” they nonetheless have at left sort out. They will’t let their promising younger QB Justin Herbert enter the 2021 season with out that gap addressed. Darrisaw was a three-year starter at left sort out for Virginia Tech who, in accordance with Professional Soccer Focus, allowed zero sacks and simply six hurries in 293 pass-blocking snaps final season.
14. Minnesota Vikings: Kwity Paye, edge, Michigan
The Vikings might additionally go offensive line right here, however a participant like Paye might assist them get again to having a protection that opponents worry. The Vikings had been at their greatest below Mike Zimmer once they had a dominant defensive entrance, bookended by Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter. Pairing Paye, a strong and explosive go rusher, reverse Hunter, can be a key step towards recreating that.
15. Carolina Panthers (through projected commerce with the Patriots): Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Carolina’s commerce for Sam Darnold doesn’t preclude them from taking a QB, however in this situation, now we have them as an alternative making the most of the top-10 QB run to maneuver again and decide up further draft capital. The Panthers had an all-defense draft in 2020, however Parsons, a transformed edge rusher who has the potential to fill the center of Carolina’s protection in the approach that Luke Kuechly as soon as did, can be onerous to go up if he had been accessible right here.
16. Arizona Cardinals: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
With Patrick Peterson having left for Minnesota, and the Cardinals preferring to maintain Byron Murphy in the slot, drafting an outdoor nook makes numerous sense. Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley’s March again surgical procedure may very well be an element in his going later than as soon as anticipated. The speedy and bodily Horn has the traits essential to be a No. 1 nook in the NFL.
17. Las Vegas Raiders: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC
The Raiders have numerous work to do on protection as properly, however their offseason teardown of their offensive line has made it an acute want. After Las Vegas traded away sort out Trent Brown, guard Gabe Jackson and middle Rodney Hudson, the versatile Vera-Tucker, who can play a number of positions in the trenches, can be a superb asset.
18. Miami Dolphins: Azeez Ojulari, edge, Georgia
This 12 months’s edge-rusher class is an uncommon one, missing top-five expertise and with every of the prime gamers at the place having one thing that offers evaluators pause. However that additionally signifies that in the center of the first spherical, the Dolphins might have their decide of this 12 months’s greatest. I like Ojulari right here; he was very productive at Georgia, with 15 sacks in 23 video games, and he would match properly as a 3–4 linebacker in Flores’s protection.
19. Washington Soccer Crew: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Owusu-Koramoah performed throughout Notre Dame’s protection, lining up at linebacker, security and even slot nook, displaying the versatility that’s coveted in right now’s NFL linebackers. He’d fill the void in Ron Rivera’s protection left by the departure of Kevin Pierre-Louis.
20. Chicago Bears: Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
The Bears’ roster has many wants, none bigger than QB, however their draft slot, plus the anticipated early run on the top-five passers, make them ill-positioned to take one in the first spherical. Newsome, who has generated numerous predraft buzz, would assist Chicago’s protection substitute Kyle Fuller.
21. Indianapolis Colts: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
Anthony Castonzo’s retirement has left a gap for the Colts at left sort out. I struggled with the match a bit of bit right here as Jenkins performed most of his faculty begins at proper sort out, the place Indianapolis is about with Braden Smith. However Jenkins additionally has expertise at left sort out and proper guard, permitting the Colts to play some offensive line combinatorics. And in accordance with PFF, he didn’t permit a sack in his final two seasons at Oklahoma State.
22. Tennessee Titans: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
The Titans, who’ve a cornerback want after chopping each Malcolm Butler and Adoree’ Jackson, might doubtlessly get nice worth right here if Farley continues to be on the board. He told NBC Sports’ Peter King he acquired good suggestions post-microdiscectomy at the mix medical recheck, saying, “The NFL medical doctors confirmed I’d be prepared for the season, they usually advised me that is undoubtedly not a power factor.”
23. New York Jets (through Seahawks): Gregory Rousseau, edge, Miami
Almost as futile as the Jets’ quest for a QB has been their pursuit of a go rusher. This may very well be the 12 months that GM Joe Douglas will get his strive at each in the first spherical. As we famous above, it is a tough edge class to determine. Rousseau final performed in 2019, selecting to decide out of final season to assist his mother and father, who had been each frontline staff throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In the ’19 season, he was behind solely Chase Younger with 15.5 sacks.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Steelers proprietor Artwork Rooney II made clear in his season-ending press convention that reestablishing the floor sport, after the Steelers ranked final in the league in dashing final season, can be a precedence. Drafting Harris would give the Steelers an opportunity to function the run sport in a approach they haven’t been in a position to since Le’Veon Bell left. Including to the offensive line in the draft is one other vital a part of doing so, however a deep draft class there’ll permit Pittsburgh to handle the trenches in a later spherical.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (through Rams): Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
At this spot, Moehrig can be the greatest participant accessible for the rebuilding Jaguars. He’d additionally complement the free-agency upgrades Jacksonville made to the secondary, in signing CB Shaquill Griffin and S Rayshawn Jenkins. Moehrig’s versatility and instincts for the ball might permit Jags defensive coordinator Joe Cullen to finally use him as a movable piece who sows confusion for opponents, ideally just like the approach Pittsburgh has used Minkah Fitzpatrick.
26. Cleveland Browns: Jaelan Phillips, edge, Miami
The Jadeveon Clowney signing makes the Browns’ edge want a bit much less pressing, however which will additionally give them the flexibility to take a bet on one in every of the draft’s biggest danger/reward gamers. Phillips could also be the most gifted go rusher in this 12 months’s class, however he might slide due to his damage historical past, which incorporates severe wrist harm in a moped accident and a number of concussions at UCLA that led to his briefly retiring from soccer. He subsequently transferred to Miami and resumed his taking part in profession with a standout 2020 season, in which he collected eight sacks and 15.5 TFL in 10 video games.
27. Baltimore Ravens: Jayson Oweh, edge, Penn State
Buying and selling again is at all times on the desk for the Ravens—maybe they will get a receiver they like a couple of slots later, whereas nabbing an additional decide. But when they keep right here, edge rusher is a first-rate choice, after shedding each Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue in free company. Oweh’s lack of sacks in his ultimate 12 months at Penn State just isn’t best, however PFF charted him as having 15 hurries and 5 QB hits in his seven video games final season, displaying that he was nonetheless affecting opposing QBs. He didn’t play organized soccer till his junior 12 months of highschool, and the Ravens’ teaching employees may help him refine his approach to harness his uncooked expertise.
28. New Orleans Saints: Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State
The Saints’ salary-cap constraints imply they’ll look to the draft to handle wants, and foremost on that record is cornerback. Janoris Jenkins left in free company, so that they want a starter reverse Marshon Lattimore. Samuel is undersize however makes use of his agility and anticipation to make performs on the ball, to the tune of 29 PBUs in his faculty profession.
29. Inexperienced Bay Packers: Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky
The crew that the Packers misplaced to in the NFC championship sport provided a reminder of what they’ve lengthy been lacking: playmaking off-ball linebackers in the center of their protection. The speedy and rangy Davis has the potential to be that participant for the Packers. As for Aaron Rodgers’s preferences, this 12 months’s receiver class is deep sufficient to justify the crew’s sample of addressing that place in the second or third spherical.
30. Buffalo Payments: Joe Tryon, edge, Washington
That is at all times an attention-grabbing a part of the first spherical, the place groups that fell simply in need of reaching the Tremendous Bowl search for the piece or two that might get them over the hump. The Payments didn’t win the J.J. Watt sweepstakes, however they might look to handle their middling go rush with their prime decide. Tryon, who’s constructed like the prototypical go rusher, has the potential to be a steal right here; he was extremely productive in 2019 (12.5 sacks) earlier than opting out in ’20.
31. Kansas Metropolis Chiefs: Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
This mock decide is dropped at you by Not Overthinking It. The Chiefs rebuilt the inside of their offensive line in free company, signing left guard Joe Thuney, middle Austin Blythe and proper guard Kyle Lengthy. They nonetheless have a necessity at sort out, after releasing starters Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz. Mayfield was a starter at proper sort out for the Wolverines but in addition acquired some snaps as a fill-in left sort out as a freshman.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
The Bucs have the uncommon luxurious of returning all 22 starters from their Tremendous Bowl LV crew. The final to re-sign was Ndamukong Suh, on a one-year deal. Barmore is a fast and bodily defensive sort out who primarily lined up as a 3-technique at Alabama. He might start in a rotational function with the Bucs, as an inside go rusher, with the potential to be pegged as Suh’s substitute.
Extra NFL Draft Protection:
* Breer: 20 Issues to Know About the Draft
* Rosenberg: The Unmatched Arrival of Trevor Lawrence
* Orr: Rashod Bateman Says 2020 Made Him a Man
* Prewitt: What Occurs to the Prospects Who Opted Out?