The NFL season has come to an end. Now we are in the cold month of the year which falls between the Super Bowl and free agency. All we can do at this point is look to the future and connect the dots. With where rosters stand right now, here is my first predictive mock draft.
1.1 Jacksonville Jaguars
The pick: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
To the victor goes the spoils (or in this case not so much). As a reward for winning just one game in 2020 the Jags get to draft the crown jewel of this class. Lawrence is a once in a generation type of quarterback prospect. He has all the arm strength, athleticism, accuracy and experience you could hope for. He is the type of player that can turn a franchise around.
1.2 New York Jets
The pick: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
There are reports out there that some teams have Wilson as their highest rated quarterback in this draft class. While I don’t regard him that high, or even this high for that matter, I do like the fit with the Jets. He has great mobility and ability to throw on the run. His arm strength is excellent and makes some of the most impressive passes you’ll see from any of these prospects. It’s a fresh start in New York and they need a new face of their future.
1.3 TRADE Philadelphia Eagles
The pick: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
With Carson Wentz now traded, the quarterback picture becomes a little clearer in Philadelphia. And as someone who doesn’t believe in Jalen Hurts as a franchise signal caller, trading up for Fields makes a lot of sense. I view him as an excellent talent who would be a first overall pick in just about every other year that Trevor Lawerence isn’t in the class. His accuracy and athletic ability project very well to the NFL level and he’s someone I view as a future top ten and even top five quarterback in the NFL someday.
1.4 Atlanta Falcons
The pick: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
The Falcons are sputtering out at the end of an era. With Matt Ryan and Julio Jones nearing the golden years of their careers, it’s time to start looking ahead. Lance is as talented as anybody in this draft, even coming from a small school. I don’t think he’s someone who will be ready to start day one, so sitting behind Ryan for a year would be beneficial for all parties.
1.5 Cincinnati Bengals
The pick: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Last year the Bengals drafted their franchise quarterback in Joe Burrow only to watch a promising rookie season come to a premature end. Now as he looks to return from his injury, the team has to build around him and protect him. Sewell is big, strong and mobile. Between him and former first round pick Jonah Williams, Cincinnati will have a strong foundation for their offense moving forward.
1.6 Miami Dolphins (via HOU)
The pick: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
In a savvy move, the Dolphins can move back a few picks and still get exactly what they need. Smith is an excellent separator who can threaten defenses down the field. Additionally, he already has a connection with last year’s first round quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. This type of separation ability is something the Dolphins offense desperately needs and they can add a talent here that is much bigger than his size.
1.7 Detroit Lions
The pick: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
The rebuild is on in Detroit and they need to start acquiring talent in all forms. Waddle is my top rated wide receiver in this draft and would be a great fit for the Lions. His elusiveness and explosiveness will help new quarterback Jared Goff maximize his talent and give the Lions a legitimate go to option or potentially an elite wide receiver tandem if they can retain Kenny Golladay.
1.8 Carolina Panthers
The pick: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
With no quarterback left on the board, the Panthers are in position to draft the best player available. To me, that is Kyle Pitts here. Pitts is an incredibly talented tight end who elevated his quarterback in college to Heisman Trophy consideration. His has enough blocking ability to be moved all around, but he has elite pass catching and mismatch ability for the position.
1.9 Denver Broncos
The pick: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Farley play and he was inexperienced before opting out of 2020. However, I’ve learned not to bet against supreme athletes with great work ethic. I have no reason to doubt Farley and his character, so I am willing to bet that he will continue to develop into the shutdown corner that he profiles as.
1.10 Dallas Cowboys
The pick: Patrick Surtain, CB, Alabama
The Cowboys have a new defensive coordinator and look like they are committing to revamping their defense. The best player to help them do that here is Surtain. He is a physical corner who already has familiarity with last year’s second round corner Trevon Diggs. This makes for a good young corn in the secondary.
1.11 New York Giants
The pick: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Parsons is an incredible athlete with high upside. He is a little bit of a gamble with some off the field issues, but his talent outside the top ten is greater value. His speed and physicality will shine with the defensive line that New York already has in place.
1.12 San Francisco 49ers
The pick: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
Horn strikes me as a great fit with the 49ers. He is skilled and physical and should be a great addition to the culture they already have in place. His greatest weakness, lackint top end speed, will be minimized in this primary zone system.
1.13 Los Angeles Chargers
The pick: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
This is the offensive lineman the Chargers have been waiting for. Athletic and physical, Darrisaw is strong in the run game and mobile enough to be a plus pass protector on the blindside of young quarterback Justin Herbert.
1.14 Minnesota Vikings
The pick: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
The Vikings are getting a little long in the tooth on their defensive line. They need an influx of young talent to keep them in the playoff hunt moving forward. Paye is a special athlete who is strong and mobile. He would be a great complement opposite of Danielle Hunter.
1.15 New England Patriots
The pick: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
The Patriots need weapons and Chase is the best left in the draft at this point. He is a physical receiver who can win at the catch point and shows surprising burst out of his breaks. Many view him as the best receiver in the draft, so getting him at 15 is great value.
1.16 Arizona Cardinals
The pick: Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern
Kyler Murray has been hit a lot at this point in his young career. The Cardinals need to take pressure off him, particularly after watching him get banged up last season. Slatter is extremely mobile and brings versatility to thrive at tackle or at guard.
1.17 Las Vegas Raiders
The pick: Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama
The Raiders have to keep building their defense because it was awful in 2020. The best place to start is upfront with their pass rush, which was also awful in 2020. Barmore flashes great penetration potential for the NFL and fits the pedigree that the Raiders like in first round prospects.
1.18 Miami Dolphins
The pick: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
Collins is a physical specimen who loves contact and getting after the passer. He reminds me of Jamie Collins in some ways and he was very successful in the Patriots defense where head coach Brian Flores spent several years before taking over in Miami.
1.19 Washington Football Team
The pick: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
I don’t like the value for any of the quarterbacks left in this draft here, so Washington has to do the next best thing and lay the foundation of their future quarterback. Bateman is a smooth and crafty route runner with good physical tools. The pairing of him and Terry McLaurin be set them up for success with whoever the quarterback is.
1.20 Chicago Bears
The pick: Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
The Bears offense is nothing short of a liability. They need to rebuild it in almost every way. Since they can’t get the quarterback they need, the next best thing is improving the offensive line. Mayfield is a high ceiling tackle who could be one of the biggest steals of the draft.
1.21 Indianapolis Colts
The pick: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
The Colts just traded for their franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz. Considering his lengthy injury history and the recent retirement of Anthony Castillo, Indianapolis is all but assured to take an offensive tackle. Cosmi is very light on his feet and profiles to best a franchise left tackle.
1.22 Tennessee Titans
The pick: Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas
I love this fit in terms of team needs, culture and talent. Ossai is a high motor pass rusher who can do multiple things well from the outside linebacker position. He won’t have to be the primary pass rusher in Tennessee and will benefit from the presence of Harold Landry and Jeffrey Simmons.
1.23 New York Jets
The pick: Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
New head coach Robert Saleh will be tasked with rebuilding the Jets defense in his image. Stokes brings great size and I think he’d do well in a cover 3 defense.
1.24 Pittsburgh Steelers
The pick: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
The Steelers have reached an uncomfortable end to the Big Ben era 8n Pittsburgh. He may be back in 2021, but he clearly isn’t the player he was. A workhorse and pass catching running back will only help whoever the quarterback is going forward.
1.25 Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR)
The pick: Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame
After investing the top pick into a franchise quarterback, the next logical step is to protect that investment. Eichenberg is agile and should be able to start at left tackle as a rookie.
1.26 Cleveland Browns
The pick: Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
The Browns are an up and coming team who finally broke out last year. To make them even more dangerous, adding a talented pass rusher like Phillips opposite of Myles Garrett could be the difference between making the playoffs and winning a game in the postseason.
1.27 Baltimore Ravens
The pick: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
With Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue hitting free agency, the Ravens need an edge rusher of the future. Ojulari has all they physical tools as well as the physicality to be the type of player that you’d expect of the Ravens. If they can land Ojulari at this point of the draft it could be the best value in the 2021 class.
1.28 New Orleans Saints
The pick: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
The Saints have maybe the worst salary cap situation I’ve ever seen. Even worse, they don’t have a quarterback. Getting a young cheap quarterback to build around makes sense.
1.29 Green Bay Packers
The pick: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, DEF, Notre Dame
The Packers linebackers struggle in coverage. Adding a chess piece lije Owusu-Koramoah improves their back seven and gives them another pass rusher if the are willing to blitz.
1.30 Buffalo Bills
The pick: Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
Bolton may turn out to be the best linebacker in this draft. He’s fast and physical and could be the perfect fit in Buffalo with Matt Milano entering free agency.
1.31 TRADE New York Jets
The pick: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
If the Jets want to instal a San Fransisco like running game, they will need a running back with speed. Etienne has an extra gear to make big plays happen and will help develop an identity on offense for the Jets. They move up in front of the Bucs who also project to be in the running back market.
1.32 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The pick: Jay Tufele, DL, USC
Ndamukong Suh is one of the oldest defensive tackles in the NFL and a free agent. Tufele can stuff the run and get off blocks well. He would be a seamless replacement this year or next.