With just under three weeks to the NFL Draft, I figure it’s time for me to throw my hat in the ring and publish my first ever mock draft. Closely following this draft class has been lots of fun, as it is one of the deepest across the board that the league has seen in quite some time.
As you’ll notice, I don’t project trades. When completing this mock, I kept in mind what I believe the team will do in combination with what the best fit is for that team — regardless of what pick the player is selected.
Version 2.0 of this mock will be published on Apr. 21. The third (and final) version will be published the day before draft day — the 28th.
Now, read up and give me some feedback. Enjoy.
1. JAX | Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
“Trevor Lawrence” and “number one pick” have been synonymous since 2018. Coming in as arguably the most surefire prospect in draft history, Lawrence will make an immediate impact on the field for the Jaguars and their new head coach, Urban Meyer. The future is bright for Jacksonville with the Clemson product at the wheel.
2. NYJ | Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
From being one of the most electric players in college football to the potential savior of a downtrodden Jets organization, Zach Wilson possesses the talent and marketability that is perfect for New York. Additionally, new head coach Robert Saleh all but confirmed his desire to start fresh with his own “guy” under center when the team traded 2018 first round selection Sam Darnold on Monday. Wilson, unlike Lawrence, won’t bring an immediate turnaround to his team’s offense, as they’ll need to acquire a substantial amount of talent around him in order to be successful.
3. SF | Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Since the 49ers traded up to this pick back in March, the debate regarding who they had in mind when making the move has raged on increasingly stronger with each passing day. While it’s clear a majority of pundits are convinced the team has Alabama QB Mac Jones in their crosshairs, I refuse to believe head coach Kyle Shanahan bet the house on the fifth-best passer in this draft class. Trey Lance possesses all the natural tools to thrive in Shanahan’s offense, as I fully expect the head coach to take a similar approach with the North Dakota State product as he attempted with Robert Griffin III in Washington: start simple, expand the playbook in years two and three, and dominate.
4. ATL | Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
As one of only two “generational talent” prospects in this draft class, Kyle Pitts is a no-brainer for a Falcons team who have committed themselves to Matt Ryan as their quarterback for the 2021 season. With a 6-foot-6 frame and all the physical talent in the world, he’ll serve as a more than solid option to complement star receiver Julio Jones.
5. CIN | Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Penei Sewell is the other “generational talent” in this class. Despite sitting out the entire 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, he enters this draft as the undisputed OT1. For a team that is in desperate need of protection for last year’s number one overall pick in Joe Burrow, Cincinnati should sprint to the table with Sewell’s name on a card when the fifth pick arrives.
6. MIA | Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Passing on LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase, Miami opts to reunite Jaylen Waddle with his former quarterback — and current face of the franchise — Tua Tagovailoa. Receiver is a desperate need for the Dolphins, who are looking to put as many weapons as possible around their young quarterback. Waddle will contribute as a nice balance to the skillsets of DeVante Parker and Jakeem Grant.
7. DET | Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
It’s no secret that the Lions are in full rebuild mode. The team signed new head coach Dan Campbell to a six-year contract and traded away longtime franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford in exchange for former Rams QB Jared Goff and draft capital. With these moves, the organization has made it clear that they’re willing to play the long game and rebuild slowly in hopes of long-term success. Ja’Marr Chase — whom I consider the best receiver in this draft — isn’t the worst first step towards rebuilding an offense that is reeling after the loss of Kenny Golladay in free agency.
8. CAR | Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Micah Parsons — the undisputed LB1 — enters the draft with potential off-field concerns. After having a lawsuit filed against him by former teammate Isaiah Humphries, Parsons has slipped in many mock drafts across the NFL landscape. However, due to the general lack of severity of said issues, I simply can’t see a team like the Panthers — who are now out of the market for a quarterback after trading for Sam Darnold — letting an impact player of his caliber slip out of the top ten.
9. DEN | Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
As my third best quarterback in this class, Justin Fields heads to Denver as the answer for a team who is desperate to find their franchise passer after a tumultuous season with Drew Lock at the helm. Despite (phantom) character concerns and (also phantom) questions surrounding his “mental processing,” I firmly believe Fields has the tools and mental fortitude to be a day one starter for the Broncos, and would give a team ready to take the next step the quarterback play it needs to do so.
10. DAL | Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
After giving up a whopping 386 yards per game in 2020, the Cowboys are in desperate (and I mean desperate) need of defensive playmakers. Patrick Surtain II certainly fits the bill, coming in as this draft class’ top pass defender. As the son of a former NFL defensive back, he possesses the necessary coverage skills and on-ball instincts that Dallas was missing this past season.
11. NYG | Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
After signing Kenny Golladay in free agency, the Giants might head into the draft with the other side of the ball on their mind. Jaelan Phillips is arguably the best edge rusher in this class, and will seamlessly complement the power of the interior wrecking ball that is Leonard Williams, who re-signed with the team early in the free agency period. Passing on offensive weapons at this pick will be tough, but head coach Joe Judge wants a strong, reliable defense that can bail out a still-developing quarterback in Daniel Jones when needed.
12. PHI | DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Coming off a Heisman Trophy-winning campaign, DeVonta Smith arrives in Philadelphia as the presumptive number one receiver. He heads up a lackluster group of pass-catchers on a team that’s entering the front end of a rebuild with a new head coach. He’ll provide a speedy and reliable target for a quarterback who is looking to prove his worth — and gain the confidence of the team who spent a second round pick on him — in Jalen Hurts.
13. LAC | Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
Following a monster pro day, Rashawn Slater’s draft stock has skyrocketed in recent weeks. At 6-foot-4, he isn’t the biggest or most physically intimidating left tackle in this draft class. However, the film doesn’t lie, and he’ll have great success providing the protection needed for second-year franchise quarterback Justin Herbert — which is plenty of reason for the Chargers to select him.
14. MIN | Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC
After playing tackle this season for USC, Alijah Vera-Tucker will most likely make the move inside to guard at the next level. At 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds, he’s the textbook definition of a dominant physical force. Even better, he’ll fill a glaring hole that the Vikings are desperate to address: interior protection for quarterback Kirk Cousins.
15. NE | Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Mac Jones is a quarterback I haven’t been high on… at all. With limited athleticism and below average arm talent, he’ll need a solid offensive line, an explosive supporting cast (like the one he had at the college level), and — most importantly — great coaching to thrive in the NFL. New England checks all the boxes, as head coach Bill Belichick will select Jones to take the reins in 2022 after spending a season as the number two behind Cam Newton.
16. ARI | Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
With the departure of Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals are searching for their next lockdown pass defender. Jaycee Horn — at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds with 33-inch arms and a 4.39 forty-yard dash — is that guy. Coming into the draft as the most athletic cornerback, he’ll be a plug-and-play difference maker for a defense who was already one of the best against the pass, ranking 10th in the league.
17. LV | Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
NFL pundits are all over the map regarding Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah’s position at the next level. Linebacker? Safety? Nickel? No matter where he lines up, he’ll make plays. Despite defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and the schematic issues Owusu-Koramoah’s skillset might bring to his system, general manager Mike Mayock loves — and I mean loves — drafting the most athletic player on the board (i.e. Henry Ruggs III).
18. MIA | Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
The Dolphins are on a mission to surround quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with weapons. With their second first round pick, they’ll select another Alabama product in Najee Harris. Coming off back-to-back 1,000-plus yard rushing campaigns, he’ll fill the hole that has plagued Miami’s offense since the departure of Kenyan Drake in 2019.
19. WAS | Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
At pick 19, the Washington Football Team is out of the market for a top-flight quarterback. After signing offensive playmakers such as Curtis Samuel and Adam Humphries in free agency, the next place to look on the offensive side of the ball is left tackle. Christian Darrisaw — a DMV native — fits exactly what the team is looking for in its next franchise blindside protector. At 6-foot-5 and 311 pounds, he possesses the athleticism, bend, and lean frame to thrive in pass protection. He’ll replace swing tackle Cornelius Lucas as a much more reliable, consistent option.
20. CHI | Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
After signing Andy Dalton to be the team’s quarterback in 2021, the Bears are looking to upgrade their weapons on offense. Rashod Bateman’s crisp route running and reliable hands makes him the perfect number two for the team to pair with Allen Robinson, who was hit with the franchise tag before the start of free agency. Dalton will need all the help he can get for Chicago to avoid yet another lackluster offensive campaign.
21. IND | Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
Head coach Frank Reich is reunited with quarterback Carson Wentz in Indianapolis after the team traded for him from Philadelphia. With the pieces falling into place for a team who feels ready to make a deep run in the playoffs next season, there’s one final touch missing: left tackle. Teven Jenkins is an athletic freak of nature who will keep Wentz clean and allow him to be the MVP-caliber passer he was in 2017.
22. TEN | Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
6-foot-2, 202-pound Trevon Moehrig has seen his draft stock rise steadily over the past month. As one of the premier coverage safeties in this draft class (21 passes defended in three years at TCU), he’ll help anchor a secondary that was near the bottom of the league at defending the pass this past season.
23. NYJ | Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
With the quarterback of the future in Zach Wilson drafted second overall, the Jets get to work surrounding him with as much talent as possible. Terrace Marshall Jr. has been hailed as one of this class’ most pro-ready pass catchers. With the ability to create in space and take the top off opposing defenses — clocking a 4.38 forty-yard dash at his pro day — he’ll walk into the team’s facility as the undisputed number one receiver.
24. PIT | Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
Lost in the midst of the deepest class of offensive linemen the NFL Draft has seen since 2014, Samuel Cosmi is coming off a dominant 2020 campaign and was a bright spot on an otherwise modest Texas roster. And while running back is the primary position of need for the Steelers, they’ll have the luxury of addressing it on days two and three. In the meantime, they get the protection they need for an aging Ben Roethlisberger, who re-signed with the team on a one-year deal this offseason.
25. JAX | Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
Like the Jets, Jacksonville will acquire both their potential franchise quarterback and an offensive weapon to complement the passer of their choice in the first round of this year’s draft. As one of my favorite prospects, Kadarius Toney will take the field as a do-it-all player for an offense being quickly rebuilt by head coach Urban Meyer.
26. CLE | Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
Kwity Paye — in a relatively shallow class of edge rushers — solves Cleveland’s desperate desire to pair an effective rusher with franchise bookend Myles Garrett. In 28 games for Michigan, he racked up 11.5 sacks with 23.5 tackles for loss. If this production can carry over to the next level, the Browns will feature one of the league’s most well-rounded defensive units.
27. BAL | Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
After failing to sign a true number one receiver in free agency, there’s little doubt that Baltimore will look to the draft to address their position of need. While Elijah Moore is unlikely to fill that role long-term, he’s the best true slot receiver in this class. His ability to create separation in small areas will nicely complement the big-play ability Marquise Brown brings to the Ravens offense.
28. NO | Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Due to a recent medical diagnosis that requires back surgery, Caleb Farley’s draft stock has plummeted. Some recent mock drafts don’t even include the Virginia Tech product who was once considered a top ten pick. However, the Saints are in dire need of a playmaking pass defender after being forced to release nearly their entire secondary for the sake of cap space. At 6-foot-2, as long as Farley is — and stays — healthy, his God-given tools and physical traits will allow him to be a premier outside corner at the next level.
29. GB | Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
Everybody in the world of sports knows the Packers need a receiver. Enter Rondale Moore, who comes into the draft as one of the most explosive playmakers available. With a skillset that perfectly coincides with what star receiver Davante Adams, he’ll give quarterback Aaron Rodgers the long overdue downfield threat that will free up Adams in man-to-man coverage. With Moore, this Green Bay offense immediately becomes that much more lethal.
30. BUF | Gregory Rosseau, EDGE, Miami
Similarly to Caleb Farley, edge rusher Gregory Rosseau’s draft projection has lowered gradually over the past month. The player who was once considered the top prospect at his position is now a fringe first round pick. However, Buffalo’s defense is itching for a pass rusher to put the finishing touch on a strong unit, and Rosseau’s on-field production and measurables (6-foot-7, 265 pounds) far outweighs a modest pro day showing. With the Bills, he’ll be surrounded by great talent that will allow him to develop at an ideal rate.
31. KC | Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
After letting (quite literally) nearly their entire offensive line go, the Chiefs are set on fully rebuilding the unit with cheap — and rookie — contracts. Dillon Radunz, at 6-foot-6 and 300 pounds, is exactly what Kansas City is looking for at the bottom of the first round. He’ll be an immediate starter for a team who is expecting yet another run at the Lombardi Trophy.
32. TB | Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama
In all honesty, Tampa Bay doesn’t have many positional needs. They’ll select Christian Barmore not necessarily because they need defensive linemen, but because it never hurts to make a unit stronger. In two years as a starter, Barmore racked up 10 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss. He’ll join a tightknit group headed up by Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea.
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