All draft prospects have been analysed in-depth and ranked against each other. Now it’s time to predict what will happen when Thursday night rolls around, as I present my one and only mock draft of the year.
There’s going to be a bit of a surprise quarterback at number three – even though the name has gotten some steam lately – the big three receivers go early, but then people wait a little bit because they know how deep the class is, there will be kind of a late run on edge rushers and I have only one running back going in the first round. The big thing here is two of my top ten overall prospects don’t hear their names called in this first round due to injuries, largely because without any medical information, it was hard for me to actually put things into context and project where these guys will go.
As far as trades go, I tried to stay close to what the NFL Trade Value Chart says and didn’t include any picks from future years, to keep things fairly simple. To me this clear – this is not what I would do necessarily, but more so what I think will ultimately happen.
Now let’s get into this thing!
1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
This has been the number one overall pick ever since we saw him carve up the Alabama defense in the National Championship game as a 19-year old true freshman. The only question was, who was going to get him. Jacksonville losing their final 15 games of last season secured them that right and with Urban Meyer coming out of retirement for a chance to coach this guy, to go with a lot of things that I already like about this Jags’ roster, they have to a chance to build something special in Duval County. Jackson-villians are already being Lawrence wedding gifts. There’s no need to further discuss this.
2. New York Jets – Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
Jets fans lost their minds when their team went from seemingly sabotaging themselves, in order to stay ahead in the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes, to winning consecutive games against playoff teams. However, getting Zach Wilson as a consolation prize is more than just fine. I believe he is a great fit for what Mike Shanahan wants to do on offense in terms moving the pocket off the zone run game and Wilson has the best vision for secondary plays, to help him overcome a still improving Gang Green roster. I talked in my quarterback breakdown about how the gap between these two guys isn’t as big as people make it up to be.
3. San Francisco 49ers – Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Speaking of great fits for that type of offense – nobody does it better than Kyle Shanahan, since his father basically made it popular around the league, but he needs somebody he can rely upon to run it. Trey Lance was in a very similar offense at North Dakota State, where his ability to throw on the run or settle after being on the move initially are really impressive, to go with a Howitzer of an arm. He may only be a one-year starter, but he displays clean footwork and good football IQ. Plus, on top of that, he has the strong lower body to shrug off defenders, create off-script and rip off big runs himself.
4. Atlanta Falcons – Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
I’m sure the Falcons would love to trade out of this pick and collect more assets, but with the price this would demand and what I perceive the teams in the quarterback market to be, I couldn’t find a dance partner for them. Instead, they opt for the biggest mismatch weapon in the draft, to add to an already great group of pass-catchers. What Kyle Pitts can bring, in terms of creating conflict for the defense, how he could threaten the seams and immediately upgrade the 26th-ranked red-zone offense, would be too attractive to pass up, since they won’t get out of the Matt Ryan deal clean for another two years.
5. Cincinnati Bengals – Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
There’s been a lot of noise about the Bengals re-uniting Joe Burrow with his former LSU stud receiver Ja’Marr Chase and it seems to be close to a 50-50 call right now, but what it came down to for me, is that they can still get a great receiver when they pick early in the second run, while I could see a major run at offensive tackles in the late first and early second. Penei Sewell is the best prospect at the position that I have scouted (over the last decade). There’s some hand-usage and footwork issues that he has to clean up in pass-protection, but his potential is off-the-charts.
6. Miami Dolphins – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
This turned out pretty well for the Dolphins, who have their choice of receivers here, if you count Kyle Pitts as the tight-end he is on paper. I could see them go LSU or Alabama, but ultimately went with Jaylen Waddle, because I believe for the development of Tua Tagovailoa, you need a dynamic separator and re-uniting him with his explosive teammate from his time in Tuscaloosa would help him become less hesitant to pull the trigger and be a more aggressive downfield thrower. Plus Waddle can create yards off quick touches and be a game-breaker in the return game for Miami, if they want to split those duties between him and Jakeem Grant.
7. Detroit Lions – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
The Lions won’t complain about this, since they can grab my number one receiver here, after they just lost Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones for basically nothing. I don’t know if Ja’Marr Chase will bite any knee-caps, but he can sure as hell pluck the ball off the helmets of DBs down the field and run away from the defense with the ball in his hands. Detroit took on the Jared Goff contract, because they knew this wouldn’t be a quick turn-around and they need to collect talented players. He is the highest one on my board and fills a major need. So unless somebody aggressively wants to move up here, this should be the pick.
8. Carolina Panthers – Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
With the trade for Sam Darnold, I lean towards not going for a quarterback here for Carolina, even if one of the big four would fall right into their lap in this scenario. Instead, they should look to protect their new signal-caller, since they already have plenty of receiving help around him and Kyle Pitts would be the only guy that would present a major upgrade here. The offensive line is the biggest area of improvement and by getting the most pro-ready linemen in the draft, they could upgrade left tackle and potentially have two book-ends with him and Taylor Moton for years to come, or he can upgrade either one of their guard spots instantly.
9. New England Patriots (via DEN) – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
So the Patriots do it again. I’m sure most people won’t like this, because they could have their next franchise signal-caller for the next decade plus potentially, but I just think Denver wants to see what they have in Drew Lock for one more year and if my number three quarterback is still available here, I think New England will make their move. They give up picks 46 and 122, to move up six spots and get Justin Fields, who is often compared to slightly smaller version of Cam Newton. With all the false narratives out there, I could really see the Ohio State QB drop, but Bill Belichick won’t buy into them and it should be a smooth transition from Cam, since Fields could use his athleticism in that type of offense and was actually most comfortable recently with a lot of 12 personnel and speedsters on the outside at Ohio State.
10. Dallas Cowboys – Patrick Surtain, CB, Alabama
As crazy as it may sound, this seems to be a very realistic scenario, that the Cowboys will have all the defensive prospects to choose from when they are on the clock at tenth overall. If Kyle Pitts or one of the top two offensive linemen falls to them, they could go that route, but they desperately need to upgrade their defense, which ranked in the bottom-five in points allowed and 31st against the run. They can address the front-seven later, especially with the amount of shade-nose tackles available in the middle-rounds. So with this pick, they select the most technically sound corner in the draft, since they just lost Chidobe Awuzie and really have nobody else on the outside across from Trevon Diggs, as they re-build that Bama duo.
11. New York Giants – DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
No excuses for Daniel Jones, right? The Giants have already signed Kelly Golladay this offseason, to go along with Sterling Shephard, Darius Slayton and Evan Engram. With the investments they already made into the offensive line in last year’s draft and Saquon Barkley coming back, this has to be the year Danny Dimes puts it all together. DeVonta Smith, who the Giants’ brass has reportedly been enamored with, gives them an excellent route-runner and a reliable deep threat to complete that unit. I could see Dave Gettleman go front-seven here as well, but that side of the ball wasn’t really the problem last season an I don’t think there’s somebody here that blows them away.
12. Philadelphia Eagles – Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
This is sort of a doomsday scenario here for Eagles fans, because they have already sort of written off last year’s first-round pick Jalen Reagor and are in thirst of one of the consensus top-three receivers, which they won’t get now because they traded back from six. In this scenario, I have them addressing their biggest need on the defensive side of the ball, assuming they don’t start valuing the linebacker position all of a sudden. Jaycee Horn is the most physical, battle-tested corner in the draft and allows them to put Darius Slay into more favorable positions, going up against number two receivers, while Avonte Maddox could move back into the slot.
13. Los Angeles Chargers – Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
I have had this pick locked in pretty much since late February. The Chargers clearly needed to address the offensive line this offseason, after Justin Herbert put together one of the all-time great rookie season, but was under pressure a lot, and with the signing of Corey Linsley to a big contract, they now really need an upgrade at left tackle, where they can trot out Trey Pipkins again. Christian Darrisaw is my clear number three prospect at the position. He already excelled in a wide-zone based rushing attack, which L.A. will reportedly run more this season, he was a lockdown pass-protector in the ACC last year and could be a Pro Bowl-level player for the next decade.
14. Chicago Bears (via MIN) – Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
This is probably the oddest thing I did in this mock draft, since you rarely see trades inside the division, but because the Vikings don’t have a second-round pick, they will gladly move back six spots, in return for the Bears 52nd overall slot. Chicago comes up here to grab the final quarterback worthy of a first-round pick. It may not be as exciting as Russell Wilson, but more inspiring then settling for Andy Dalton. Mac Jones would excel in that spread, RPO-oriented offense Matt Nagy and Bill Lazor originally intended to run last season, but they can also go with more of the zone- and boot-heavy approach they used later on. Jones’ processing ability and accuracy are second to none for any college QB, to not let that defense go to waste.
15. Denver Broncos (via NE) – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
This is another match that I’ve really liked for a long time now. If the Broncos decide to stick with Drew Lock for another year and see what he can do fully healthy, with all the pieces they have added around him, I see them going defense here and give Vic Fangio his version of Roquan Smith, who he coached in Chicago. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah played a lot of big nickel basically for the Notre Dame defense and he would make a lot of sense, to match up with Travis Kelce and Darren Waller in that division. Plus, they get a very rangy player on that second level, that they can deploy as a spy against those athletic, young QBs, and to limit big plays overall.
16. Arizona Cardinals – Alijah Vera-Tucker, IOL, USC
There’s some rumors about Arizona looking to trade up and potentially add another weapon to that offense. However, I believe Jaylen Waddle would the one guy they want to target, because he would be the perfect fit to give all those bubble screens to and get somebody they can rely upon as a deep threat, but I have him going sixth overall already. So instead, they settle for what most people have as the top interior offensive linemen on their boards. Alijah Vera-Tucker would upgrade either guard spot and whether they want to maybe put him at right tackle or move Justin Pugh out there potentially, the five overall would see an upgrade, especially with Kyler Murray having shown issues dealing with pressure up the middle.
17. Las Vegas Raiders – Christian Barmore, IDL, Alabama
From the information that is out there and what I’ve learned about the NFL over the years, I believe Christian Barmore will go earlier than most people expect him to. The Raiders love big-brand players and they just released Maurice Hurst out of nowhere, after he was arguable their best defensive lineman last season and they already let Maliek Collins walk in free agency. Barmore is a destruction player, who can blow through interior offensive linemen and really pursue the ball. His issue is the lack of consistency in motor and pad-level, but putting them as a penetrating three-technique could make him a problem to deal with, as they try to get into the faces of the quarterbacks in that division.
18. Miami Dolphins – Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
The fall stops here. Micah Parsons could reportedly be waiting longer than expected, due to some of the stories about hazing teammates and character concerns overall, which I can’t totally speak on. What I can say, is that Parsons would be a great fit for that Dolphins defense on the field, because he is that big New England-style linebacker, who can play a hybrid role, where he is heavily involved in blitz-packages and can rush from different spots and angles for Miami’s zero-blitz happy approach. While I could easily see the Dolphins trade back from this spot, the Penn State LB would be a direct, more athletic replacement for the recently-cut Kyle Van Noy, at a much lower cost.
19. Washington Football Team – Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
So, Washington missed out on the quarterbacks, because they didn’t want to break the bank to move into the top-ten and I don’t see them wanting to go with Mac Jones, because they just drafted a pocket passer with limited mobility in the first round two years ago and they might not get an upgrade right now from Ryan Fitzpatrick that way. The defense is already loaded with young talent. Therefore, it comes down to maybe another outside weapon or addressing the offensive line. They can try Teven Jenkins at left tackle and give themselves somebody with a mean-streak at that spot, and they can easily move him back to the right side the following season, when there’s no dead cap left on the Morgan Moses deal.
20. Minnesota Vikings (via CHI) – Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
This might have back-fired a little bit on the Vikings here, because they had two really good offensive linemen come off the board after moving back with the Bears, but while Mike Zimmer and company usually like bringing in these mid-round projects at defensive end, with the uncertainty about Danielle Hunter’s back and willingness to stay in Minnesota, to go with their sack-leader from a year ago being stuck at 3.5, they might be wise to address that problem early on. Kwity Paye may not be the most instant-impact pass-rushers maybe, but he has that freakish athletic traits the Vikings covet, he is an excellent edge-setter in the run game, to not allow all of these zone-run oriented offense in the NFC North to widen the B-gap, and they can move him inside on some passing downs, which they love to do.
21. Baltimore Ravens (via IND) – Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
The Ravens have some extra ressources to deal with thanks to the Orlando Brown deal and they have shown us that they know how to maximize those. In this scenario, I have them giving up their compensatory third-round pick (104 overall) and the fourth-rounder they also acquired from the Chiefs (136 overall), to secure their top wide receiver on the board. I know they signed Sammy Watkins and their brass was adamant about having a good group of guys already, but they need that alpha on the outside. Rashod Bateman is a silky-smooth route-runner, who can at the catch-point and make things happen after catching the ball over the middle. He is a perfect fit for Baltimore’s RPO-happy attack, where they can also put him in the slot.
22. Tennessee Titans – Greg Newsome, CB, Northwestern
With Bateman off the board as a replacement for the Corey Davis role, I see the Titans addressing the defensive side of the ball, where they could really use some help. Edge rusher could absolutely be a target here, because they ranked 30th last season with only 19 sacks, but this is a sneaky-deep class and they did spend big on Bud Dupree to pair up with Harold Landry. So I think they will go that route on day two. Instead, they go with the top corner available on most people’s boards, after losing Adoree Jackson and Malcolm Butler this offseason. Greg Newsome has experience with a lot of off-zone coverages, but he has a lot of upside to be put in press more as well, when they want to send their creative pressures.
23. New Orleans Saints (via NYJ) – Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky
We all know Mickey Loomis is an aggressive general manager, partially because of how the Saints roll over cap and magically make it all disappear after spending a boatload of money, but also specifically trading up for defensive playmakers in the first round of the draft. Here they move up five spots, in exchange for their original third-round pick (98 overall), because they still have the final day two selection thanks to compensatory rules, to grab a dynamic linebacker in Jamin Davis, who has reportedly been shooting up draft boards and has three potential suitors before they would normally select. I love the way he can work his way around blocks and move around in space. With last year’s third-rounder Zack Baun being more of a hybrid SAM, the only dependable stand-up backer they have is Demario Davis, who will be 33 years old once the season starts and has a potential out in his contract next year.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Jaylen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
This is the pick I probably struggled the most with the most. Alabama running back Najee Harris has been routinely mocked to them here, but the last time they selected a running back in round one was Rashad Mendenhall in 2008 and they have now let Le’Veon Bell and James Conner walk in the last couple of years. An athletic project edge rusher like Penn State’s Jayson Oweh, in the mold of Bud Dupree, who they just lost in free agency, would make some sense, but they liked what they saw from Alex Highsmith in limited action. So without somebody that stands out at cornerback (at least one with a clean medical), I have them selecting Jalen Mayfield here, since they also lost their two starting tackles this offseason, and he gives them a rugged blocker with position flexibility at only 20 years old.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
Another one of my favorite fits here – the Jaguars ran more single-high coverages last season than any other team in the league, despite not really having that reliable, rangy free safety. And while bringing over Joe Cullen from Baltimore probably leads to more variety on the back-end, Urban Meyer has always liked to have that guy capping over the top. Trevon Moehrig is the most consistent player int that role coming out and those guys just aren’t available later on in this draft or on the open market, plus he has plenty of experience in quarters and man on slot receivers. They already have plenty of receiving help around Trevor Lawrence, so they could still go offensive line or tight-end in Pat Freiermuth at the top of day two, and address a scarce position here.
26. Cleveland Browns – Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
This is one of the connections I already made back in February, when I discussed some of my favorite prospect-team fits. At 270 pounds now, with the official numbers coming out of the medical checks in Indianapolis, it seems like Zaven Collins is looked at more as a potential hybrid outside backer, with rush capability. While he might want to lower his weight a little bit again, I really think of what they need to beat Baltimore for the AFC North crown. And when you look at Collins’ role at Tulsa, in terms of controlling the A-gaps for any dive action or get out on the edges and chase the ball, that is exactly what Cleveland couldn’t stop last season with the Ravens’ option run game. Plus, if they want to run more two-high safety shells, like the did at the end of last season, he can gain a lot of depth as the guy in the middle of a Tampa-2 defense.
27. Indianapolis Colts (via BAL) – Sam Cosmi, OT, Texas
When I looked at the Colts, to me it really came down the edge – either on the offensive or defensive side of the ball. Their defense became one of the best in the league last season and they could really use another true threat rushing on the outside, but they have invested three second-round picks into that position between the 2018 and ’19 drafts in Kemoko Turay, Tyquan Lewis and Ben Banogu. So instead I have them finding their replacement for recently-retired left tackle Anthony Castonzo. Sam Cosmi is a highly athletic player, who shows some balance issues due to some things he needs to clean up with his footwork, but he was a really effective pass-protector at Texas already and just put up some ridiculous testing numbers at their pro day.
28. New York Jets (via NO) – Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
We all know the Jets want to bring in somebody dynamic at the running back position. They did bring in Tevin Coleman as a good scheme fit, but he has always been a number two and we haven’t seen him stay healthy for a few years now. Travis Etienne is a perfect fit for that outside-zone oriented offense Mike LaFleur brings over from San Francisco, along with Robert Saleh, plus he can a weapon in the screen game as well. He gives Gang Green that explosive game-breaker they just don’t have on the offense yet. And with no major threat between 23 and 28, they pick up another third-rounder from New Orleans in the process.
29. Green Bay Packers – Creed Humphrey, IOL, Oklahoma
Talking about replacements to some degree here, one of the bigger holes created through a free agency department came in the form of Corey Linsley being removed from the interior O-line for Green Bay. They could of course move Elgton Jenkins to his original center position from college, but then they would still have to start at least one of their day three linemen from a year ago at either one of those guard spots. So I think bringing Creed Humphrey, who excelled in that same type of wide zone-run game, like I just discussed, and uses his wrestling background to anchor down in pass-protection, would not force them to switch things up too much and improve the unit as a whole from where they are right now.
30. Buffalo Bills – Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State
After Pittsburgh, Najee Harris’ second-most common landing spots seems to be Buffalo here at 30th overall. That would certainly make a lot of sense, considering they just don’t have that reliable player in the backfield, who can stay on the field for all three downs and provide a presence that way. However, when you watch them play and how incredible Josh Allen was last season, they want to spread defenses out and throw the ball. Much more important for what they like to do, in my opinion, is the secondary play defensively. For an undrafted free agent, Levi Wallace has played fairly well, but Josh Norman was a catastrophy and they need a legitimate number two corner opposite of Tre White. Asante Samuel Jr. is pretty much a perfect fit for the ability to change directions and drive on the ball in zone coverage and off-man, plus he has the speed to run with those Kansas City receivers, who they eventually expect to face in next year’s playoffs again.
31. Baltimore Ravens – Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
With this pick the Ravens acquired from Kansas City in return for Orlando Brown, I could easily see them use it as leverage, if some team wants to come up a few spots, in order to secure the sixth quarterback or maybe some other high-level position. However, there were two names, who I closely associated with Baltimore throughout this process and with the way this thing shook out, I couldn’t pass on that idea. After addressing wide receiver earlier with Rashod Bateman, I have them going with their biggest need on defense, after losing Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue in free agency. Azeez Ojulari is that true threat around the edge Baltimore hasn’t had for years, and you see him stonewall pulling linemen in the run game routinely on tape.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
Kansas City brought back almost their full starting lineup after they won the Super Bowl a year ago, but the Buccaneers did it even better, not losing any notable backups. Therefore, this really is almost a luxury pick and if they don’t love anybody on the board right here, they could easily move back a few spots. However, the only guy that isn’t on the roster currently is Antonio Brown. He could easily come back still, but if he doesn’t, I think Kadarius Toney could be an explosive replacement for him. The former Florida jitterbug will have Tom Brady in his ear to refine his route-running, but what he can do after the catch and the fact, that I believe he can play more on the outside than somebody like Ole Miss’ Elijah Moore, to be able to still use Chris Godwin in the slot heavily, is very intriguing.