Well my friends, draft week is upon us and as pure usual, we are going to blink and Roger Goodell will be announcing the picks. Also pure usual, It has been a fairly hectic couple of weeks for the draft world and boy did the Miami Dolphins play a massive part in that. GM Chris Grier pulls out two trades, both about 30 minutes apart, both completely shaking up our expectations on the draft. A short while ago, the expectation was QB, QB, and whatever the Dolphins decide to do. Now it’s basically a guarantee that the 2021 NFL Draft kicks off with three consecutive quarterbacks off the board. The question is, which ones, and what in the world happens after that. Right now, all we can do is guess, but there is truly nothing more fun during draft season than guessing. So, let’s do just that. Happy draft week everybody!
1.1 Jacksonville Jaguars
The pick: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
This is about as obvious as it gets. Joe Burrow, Myles Garrett, Andrew Luck type of obvious. Lawrence has been on NFL radars for quite some time and the Jaguars just happened to hit the lottery. They have brought in a college legend in Urban Meyer, a speedy slot receiver in Phillip Dorsett, they also slapped the franchise tag on OT Cam Robinson. Otherwise, it has been a quiet off-season for Duval but that’ll change when they bring in Lawrence at the end of this month. He immediately changes the future of the team and gives Jacksonville the face of the franchise they have needed for years. T-Law has a history of winning: Two national championship appearances, one of them victorious, a win in the cotton bowl, and in the fiesta bowl. Somehow he never won a Heisman trophy but there is no question if he is worthy of having one. He is polished, athletic, incredibly accurate, ideally sized, possesses a strong arm, and he is incredibly poised in the pocket. To put it bluntly, name a talent a QB is supposed to have and Lawrence has it. The question for him is whether he can make the jump to the NFL and work out some occasional lapses in mecaniques. No question here with the first pick.
1.2 New York Jets
The pick: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
As we get closer to the draft it is getting more and more clear that the Jets favor Wilson. That isn’t the way I see it, but it seems likely that is how Jets GM Joe Douglas sees it. Of course the recent trade of former 1st round pick Sam Darnold knocks out any doubt that this pick will be at the quarterback position. Before the Darnold trade and with as many holes as the Jets have I did think there was an argument to be made for this to not be a quarterback but, it is very true that the 2nd pick in the draft doesn’t come easy and if they find a QB they love they have to jump on it. With Darnold being shipped out, it seems they found that guy. If that guy does end up being Zach Wilson they will be getting a guy full of potential and straight up arm talent. Wilson has plus athleticism and the personality of a big time player. His improvement from 2019 was drastic which is a very good sign he can progress in the NFL. This pick will be a QB, and it is likely to be Zach WIlson. It is also likely that if this pick fails, Joe Douglas can wave goodbye to New York. They have to get this one right.
1.3 San Francisco 49ers
The pick: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
And now we have the newest member of the top three in John Lynch and the 49ers. They gave up an absolute haul for this pick and as much as they want to say Jimmy G is the starter, you don’t give up what they did for Penei Sewell or Jaylen Waddle, this pick is a quarterback, the question is of course, which one. Now, if you have been keeping up with the draft world you are well aware of the Mac Jones to SF buzz that has been so strong it may be more than buzz. The thing is, I don’t buy it quite yet. The talent difference in Justin Fields and Mac Jones far outweighs any “scheme fit” for Jones. Fields is a stud, plain and simple, I can’t say the same for Jones purely as a prospect right now. I have Fields as QB2, Trey Lance as QB3 and Wilson behind Lance at QB4. That is no knock on Zach Wilson, he is a real talent, but Lance is far less raw than some make him out to be. Ultimately I think the 49ers go with the safer bet in Fields and bring a real star to the bay area. This sets the front office up for a weird situation with Garoppolo no doubt, but it is the right move for the roster. A healthy 49er team with Fields at the helm is young, athletic, and very very fun.
1.4 Atlanta Falcons
The pick: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Welcome to Dallas takes Zack Martin over Johnny Manziel 2021 edition. After three quarterbacks go 1-2-3, the Falcons take a hard look at Trey Lance and Mac Jones but pass on both to ensure Matt Ryan can stay untouched and healthy so he can throw to Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. The fanbase will be split in two here as it was in Dallas in 2015. One side furious they passed up on the heir apparent at QB or a historic prospect in Kyle Pitts. The other realizing just how good Sewell is and how crucial it is that Atlanta improves the offensive line. Strong arguments can be made for both, ultimately I think the Falcons go with the safer bet in Sewell. From how I see it, the Falcons have had offensive line problems for long enough and as much as another offensive weapon or a heir apparent to Ryan would be a sexy pick Sewell might provide more right now than any of those guys could. Sewell moves like a linebacker with the build of the Empire State Building. He can play at either tackle spot or at guard and do it phenomenally. The Falcons have the offensive firepower as it is, now it’s time for them to bulk up in the trenches.
1.5 Cincinnati Bengals
The pick: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Aside from Lawrence and Wilson at 1 and 2, this is my most confident pick in this mock draft. The whispers out of Cincy recently have strongly pointed to the former WR1 for Joe Burrow at LSU. Chase is in the mix with Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle and Devonta Smith for the consensus WR1 spot at the meda level of this draft however, at the NFL level it seems Chase has pulled away from the pack and the Bengals are ready for him. The lack of receivers and offensive line talent was no secret last year in Cincinnati and with some relief coming to the o-line this off-season it has become abundantly clear that the Bengals need to focus solely on getting the best weapon they can for Joe Burrow with the 5th pick. Chase possesses good size, fantastic hands, experience as a WR1 in a top offense and the deep pass threat that Cincy needs. Any of the three top receivers in this class would be big upgrades for the Bengals but Chase has separated himself in recent weeks as the apple of Cincinnati’s eye and I am pretty confident they end up picking him later this week.
1.6 Miami Dolphins (via HOU)
The pick: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
If this isn’t a historic steal I don’t know what is. Pitts is a historically good prospect and it just so happens that he fits Miami perfectly. Watching the Dolphins offense with Tua last season got rough at times and although many are putting the blame on a 23 year old kid that suffered a brutal hip injury a year prior and got no preseason or training camp I tend to say it is more on the fault of a historically bad offensive coordinator and a rough batch of weapons. My point is, Tua Tagovailoa deserves a legit chance and some time before we all jump down his throat and boot him out of south beach. Will Fuller, DeVante Parker, Kyle Pitts, Mike Gesicki, and Myles Gaskin are major improvement for the Dolphins. Admittedly, I’ve been pushing back talking about Pitts as a prospect here because what can you really say? The guy has the size of a tight end, the speed of a fast running back and the receiving ability of an All-Pro WR. He improved his blocking and production this past season at Florida and cleaned up whatever holes might have been in his game. There is bust potential for every prospect but I honestly don’t know if that applies to Kyle Pitts. Miami gets a steal here at 6.
TRADE: DET send 7 and 2022 6th to WFT for 19, 51, 164, and 2022 2nd
1.7 Washington Football Team
The pick: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Like Randy Orton coming out of nowhere, The Washington Football Team stuns the league and moves up 12 spots to take Ryan Fitzpatrick’s next understudy, Trey Lance. WFT had a BIG free agency to say the least, bringing in guys like William Jackson III, Curtis Samuel, Adam Humphries, and of course, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Washington does still have needs, but I can’t find one bigger than quarterback and as much as we all love Fitzmagic he is not a long term solution for the team. With a weak 2022 QB class and their obvious strategy to win now, they make the leap and go with Lance over Mac Jones. Keep in mind this is a guess, but I think Lance makes more sense for Washington than Jones despite the NFL probably consistently having Jones higher. The biggest knock on Jones (among many things) is his lack of a high ceiling, that is the exact opposite for Trey Lance. Washington has Fitzpatrick in place for 2021 and he can be more than serviceable this year, why have a low ceiling QB ride the bench when you can take a guy with a ton of potential that might just need some time? Lance makes more sense for Washington in my opinion. What is NOT an opinion is WFT’s need for a long term solution at QB.
1.8 Carolina Panthers
The pick: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
With the trade of Sam Darnold, the excitement in this pick has been deflated just a tad. Without Darnold, maybe this is where Mac Jones lands but with Darnold, it only makes sense to bring in a stud offensive tackle to ensure he doesn’t get abused as he did in green and white. It’s likely they take a long look at Patrick Surtain and Jaycee Horn, but Darnold has to be top priority and Rashawn Slater is one heck of a prize. Any other draft class and he would be the consensus OT1 by a mile but with Penei Sewell I can’t see Slater being higher than him on any draft board. He has a ton of experience, real smooth movement like Sewell and the guy is from Sugar Land, TX, that alone is worthy of him being a first round pick. All jokes aside, Slater is a legit first round tackle prospect and he fits exactly what Carolina needs. It’s not an exciting pick but it’s a really good one.
TRADE: DEN sends 9 to NE for 15, 97, and a 2022 3rd
1.9 New England Patriots
The pick: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
A good old fashioned double surprise. The first comes with Denver passing on Mac Jones in exchange for a trade back, the second comes with New England passing on Mac Jones in exchange for a versatile linebacker that fits the Belichick scheme to perfection. 6’5”, 260 lbs, great athleticism, and as I said, hard to find versatility. You can line him up with his hand in the dirt, he had 7.5 TFL and 4.0 sacks this past season. You can drop him in coverage, he had 4 interceptions last year as well as 8 pass breakups in his career and 3 forced fumbles. Collins is going to go a lot earlier than people think and if Bill Belichick is comfortable with Cam Newton, don’t be surprised if he moves up to secure the guy he wants on defense.
1.10 Dallas Cowboys
The pick: Patrick Surtain, CB, Alabama
Every year there are a couple picks that are just meant to be, ones that we all mock for months and it eventually happens. That seems to be the circumstance in this draft class with Surtain to Dallas. This off-season the Cowboys picked up some guys for some holes, good quality guys, but none of them were at the cornerback position. They re-signed Jourdan Lewis, lost Chidobe Awuzie to the Bengals, and watched guys like William Jackson and Adoree’ Jackson sign with division rivals. The point I’m trying to make is Dallas absolutely has to address their cornerback group before this season or it will be 45-42 final scores every single week. Enter Patrick Surtain, the corner that has been coveted by us draft nerds since his freshman year at Alabama. Ideal size at 6’2” 208 lbs, big hands, long arms, experience against top WR’s, accolades, production, football DNA and polished coverage skills. The perfect fit for a young Dallas secondary. There are concerns about his long speed but I don’t buy it that much, he just ran a 4.43u at his pro day. Surtain is a great prospect and Dallas should run to the podium if he falls to 10.
1.11 New York Giants
The pick: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
I’m feeling some 2020 WR class deja vue with this pick. A quick flashback to the 2020 draft and CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs are the consensus top 3 in the class, yet the Raiders jump on Ruggs as the first receiver off the board with the 12th pick. In this spot, the expectation would probably be Jaylen Waddle and yet the Giants take the Heisman trophy winner to help out Danny Dimes. Waddle is my personal WR1 in the class, I think he’s a bonafide stud (word to Stephen A. Smith)… Smith is a really good prospect and probably a top 3 receiver in a very stacked class but I see Waddle as much more complete and less concerning in terms of size and polish. The argument in favor of Devonta over Waddle? 1,856 yards, 23 touchdowns, 117 receptions, a heisman trophy, three straight seasons without missing a game despite durability concerns, pure domination last year. My concerns with Smith aren’t about him as a player; it’s how he translates to the league and handles the physicality of it. This is the season for Daniel Jones, it’s make or break time for Danny. I think NYG uses this draft class to load him with the best talent possible and see what happens. Getting Devonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle would accomplish that.
TRADE: PHI trades 12 to DEN for 15, 115, and a 2022 4th
1.12 Denver Broncos
The pick: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
More movement from both the Broncos and Eagles here. For Philly, they move from 6, to 12, to 15 and gain a ton in draft capital in the process. For Denver, they drop from 9, to 15 and back up to 12 to get the last big quarterback remaining. You may be thinking, why would Denver move back up to draft a QB when they just traded for Teddy Bridgewater? Well, new GM George Paton has openly expressed interest in taking a QB in the first round, he’s also been making the rounds at all the top quarterbacks pro days and if the right guy drops far enough I could see them going back up and getting him. One small thing to note here however is the one guy Paton hasn’t seen in person is Mac Jones. Now, that might mean absolutely nothing, things like that have happened in the past and that team has still picked the player. However, we don’t know if that is the case and it is for sure something to watch. In this scenario I think any concerns about Jones gets thrown out the window when he drops this far and they go back up to secure the last guy left. Drew Lock has potential, but man he struggles sometimes and I don’t know how much trust that front office still has in him. Bridgewater is solid, but they only gave up a sixth and he isn’t a long term answer. Jones can bring stability, a pocket passer approach and chemistry with WR Jerry Jeudy.
1.13 Los Angeles Chargers
The pick: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
Shades of the Derwin James pick here as LA steals the 2nd best DB in the entire draft at 13th overall. With a bunch of mayhem happening in front of them the Chargers stay calm and watch the scrappy Jaycee Horn fall right into their lap. This pick is simple, Horn has a legitimate argument for being CB1 over Surtain and getting him at 13 is not only a steal but it fits a need that the Chargers have to address at some point in the draft. At 6’1” 205 lbs he possesses prototypical size combined with a 4.37 40 yard dash, long arms, versatility to play outside in press coverage or in the slot. Whoever lands this guy is getting one heck of a cornerback and one heck of a personality. The bottom line is, this pick is one of the easiest of the night, great value and a need pick for the LA Chargers here.
1.14 Minnesota Vikings
The pick: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
People are getting a little carried away with mocking an EDGE with this pick recently. As much as I like guys like Jaelin Phillps and Kwity Paye, I’m not sold that they are worthy of the 14th pick, combining that with the Vikings desperate need at OT and they go with a big tackle from V Tech in Darrisaw. Now let me just say, me putting Darrisaw here isn’t JUST because he’s a friend of WNS (I’d be lying if I said it didn’t help his case), the guy is a really good tackle prospect and he would fit in that Minnesota line perfectly. He carries great size for an NFL tackle at 6’5” 320 lbs and he moves really really well on top of that. His feet are reminiscent of somebody 50 lbs lighter. The Vikings have one of the better HC’s in the league with Mike Zimmer but Zim has had a 25-22-1 record since the Minneapolis Miracle and another mediocre season could land him on the hot seat. One way to avoid that? Get Adam Thelien, Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook the ball. One way to do that? Beef up this offensive line with a guy like Christian Darrisaw.
1.15 Philadelphia Eagles
The pick: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
The CeeDee Lamb fall was crazy, the only thing crazier would be it happening back to back years and the beneficiaries being from the same division. GM Howie Roseman does the impossible here, not getting Waddle, but making Eagles fans happy for once (although I’m sure that won’t last long). In all seriousness, moving back from 6 to 12 and then 15 and getting a guy you could have picked at 6 is absurd. Waddle would be a godsend for a team that currently has Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward and Jalen Reagor as the heads of the WR corps. I really really like the idea of pairing Waddle with Reagor and 2nd year receiver John Hightower. That is a group that is incredibly fast, young and dynamic. Can Jalen Hurts utilize that? We don’t know quite yet, but while Hurts is trying to prove himself as the guy at the quarterback position, why not bring in some help at WR for him?
1.16 Arizona Cardinals
The pick: Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
Just a month ago, it would be laughable to have Jaycee Horn mocked higher than Caleb Farley, nevermind Greg Newsome. One month later, another injury has popped up for Farley and people have finally started to see the ability of Newsome. The dude is a stud, straight up. I know guys that have him as CB1 and to be completely honest, it is not that crazy. Newsome is a top 20 player in this class in my opinion and for a team like Arizona that has been lacking at CB and has now moved on from Patrick Peterson, this might just be a perfect match. At 6’0” 190 lbs, he is slightly smaller than Surtain, Horn and Farley but his long arms and underrated physicality more than make up for it. He was lock down in 2020 and despite some lack of playing experience he is impressively calm and instinctual on tape. Newsome does carry some injury concerns like Farley but ultimately I don’t see it hurting his stock too much. This pick may surprise some but I have a feeling the bigger surprise will be Newsome’s success later this year.
1.17 Las Vegas Raiders
The pick: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Can you say stereotypical Gruden-Mayock pick? A freak athlete, probably a bit raw, some off the field issues, star potential. That just about describes Parsons in a nutshell (with emphasis on the freak athlete part). At 6’3” 246 lbs Parsons ran a 4.39u 40 yard dash time at his pro day, that should not be possible. The last we saw of Parsons was 2019, in that season he racked up 109 tackles, 14.5 for a loss, 5 sacks and 5 passes defensed. Before the season and maybe even now, some expect him to be top 5 or top 10 in this class. I think with the amount of QB’s going early combined with Parsons need for developing instinctually and in tackling consistency he could fall to the late teens in this class. He is far from a perfect prospect but he may just be the perfect athlete. Jon Gruden will LOVE getting the chance to coach him.
1.18 Miami Dolphins
The pick: Alijah Vera-Tucker, IOL, Southern California
Another major steal in this draft as Miami takes the best interior lineman in this class all the way at 18. Following last season, the biggest thing on the Dolphins plate was helping Tua Tagovailoa, fast forward a bit and they have added WR Will Fuller, C Ted Karras, RB Malcolm Brown, TE Kyle Pitts and Vera-Tucker. Arguably the biggest move of all of those was firing former OC Chan Gailey and elevating RB Coach Eric Studesville and TE Coach George Godsey as “co-offensive coordinators”. Former NFL QB Charlie Frye has also moved into the coaching staff as the quarterbacks coach. The bottom line here is Miami needed to improve offensively, adding Pitts and Vera-Tucker might be the haul of the draft offensively. Both are instant impact players AND the top players in the class at their positions.
1.19 Detroit Lions
The pick: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
The last thing I would ever want to do is slander a historic franchise like the Detroit Lions, but, name a football position and in all likelihood the Lions have a need at that position. After a trade back from 7 to 19 the Lions are looking at the board and they see a perfect Kenny Golladay replacement in Rashod Bateman. The 6’0” 190 lbs receiver only played 5 games in 2020 but if you look back to 2019, the man went OFF. 60 catches, 1,219 yards, 11 touchdowns. I’m a big believer in best player available and if you can do that while filling a need, do it and do it fast. I think this selection does that for Detroit. The Lions brought in former Saints TE coach Dan Campbell as head coach and with new quarterback Jared Goff coming in I’m willing to bet that the front office and Campbell are going to want somebody to fill the hole left by Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. Detroit has a long way to go before they become a contender, but this is a good start for the Dan Campbell-Jared Goff era in The Motor City.
1.20 Chicago Bears
The pick: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
What an off-season for the Windy City! From Russell WIlson, to Deshaun Watson, to Andy Dalton, it’s been a ride for Bears fans and they deserve a treat as we head into the summer. Insert a lightning bolt from Mobile, Alabama in Kadarius Toney. A smidge under 6’, Toney brings 4.38 speed in the slot, the cutting ability of an elite running back and surprising physicality for a guy his size. The Bears have been pretty openly shopping Anthony Miller and if a trade does work out they will need somebody to slot into the slot in his absence and Toney makes perfect sense to be that guy. Some of you reading may know I’m a Cowboys fan, so I can speak pretty confidently on Andy Dalton at this point. Andy is a fine quarterback at times. If he is surrounded with enough talent he can keep you in games at times, but if the talent outside isn’t there it could get ugly. The Bears need to make sure it doesn’t get ugly, they take a step in that direction with this pick.
1.21 Indianapolis Colts
The pick: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
The first pass rusher of the draft goes at 21 after 5 WR’s and 5 QB’s, that alone tells you all you need to know about this draft class. It is a very weak defensive line draft and aside from Paye, Jaelan Phillps, Carlos Basham, and Ayeee Ojulari I don’t see a lot. With that said, Kwity Paye makes a lot of sense for the Colts here. They could go offensive tackle but you would be looking at Sam Cosmi, Tevin Jenkins, or a serious reach. Why do that when you could prioritize tackle in the 2nd round or even trade up while filling a roster hole with one of the better players available in Paye. Personally, I think Miami EDGE Jaelin Phillips is more talented but his medicals are a serious concern for NFL teams, some team will take him in this round but I don’t think it makes sense for that team to be Indy while Paye waits on the board. Kwity has long arms and great potential through his athletic traits. He is as explosive and as quick as any pass rusher in college football last season. It should also be mentioned his leadership ability and work ethic are absolutely top notch.
1.22 Tennessee Titans
The pick: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
I love this fit for Tennessee, not to mention a couple weeks ago they would have been lucky to see Farley get even remotely close to this pick. There are a bunch of different ways the Titans can use this pick and honestly they are a pretty hard team to mock at this point because of that. Pass rush might be a need, cornerback is especially after cutting Adoree’ Jackson, offensive tackle might be, wide receiver too. This pick came down to value for me and Farley brings that and then some. Just a short while ago Caleb Farley was the consensus CB1 or CB2 in this class, it would take some digging to find anybody with him lower than that. Unfortunately for him a back injury that required surgery gave even more weight to some injury concerns and has shut him down for a good while and let me tell you it has hurt his stock tremendously. A lack of experience at the position plus a couple serious injuries usually keeps you out of the first round but the pure talent and potential he possesses might just keep him inside the top 32. At 6’2”, 197 lbs and 33” arms he has rare size for a corner. A guy that size at that position usually means he is slower but that is not the case for him, he can run like the wind. He is a certified ball getter and has shown improvement in both man and zone coverage. His issues come with durability like I said, a lack of experience, weak tackling ability and some polish problems. Solely as a player Farley is really good but his risks may just get him to fall into the Titans lap here late in the 1st round.
1.23 New York Jets
The pick: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
This is probably the biggest fall of the draft to this point as a guy who some think as a top 12 pick drops to 23. Owusu-Koramoah burst onto the scene this season and straight up snatched a ton of hype away from Micah Parsons and honestly it was deservingly so. At 6’1” 221 lbs “JOK” is slightly undersized for a modern day NFL linebacker, the thing is, he didn’t just play linebacker. Owusu-Koramoah played just about everywhere, and I mean everywhere for the Fightin Irish this season. He played linebacker, slot corner, safety, had his hand in the dirt, and the stats show this type of versatility. 62 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 3 passes defensed, 2 fumble recoveries, 3 forced fumbles, 1.5 sacks and a touchdown just for fun. JOK did it all at Notre Dame and the pure athletic traits he showcased in South Bend will earn him serious money in the NFL. He is fast, strong, quick, smooth and good in coverage. A major question is where you play him and can a guy with limited experience make the jump to the NFL level. It may be unlikely he falls this far with the traits he has but if he does you can bet the Jets will be throwing a party in the Meadowlands.
TRADE: PIT trades 24 to GB for 29 and 93
1.24 Green Bay Packers
The pick: Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky
There is always a mid 20’s trade in the draft, this year I have it as the Packers moving up to take the inside linebacker they have been lacking for years. For Pittsburgh, they are aiming for one of the two top running backs and with it being likely that at least one, if not both are available at 29, why not pick up a third in the process. Here is the deal for Green Bay, yes, Aaron Rodgers needs better receivers, yes, there are good receivers they could pick here, an even bigger yes however? The Packers defense has been the reason they lose in the playoffs, not the offense. They have been in desperate need of a playmaker in the linebacking corps and Jamin Davis can be just that. Davis had a big 2020 season, racking up 102 tackles and 3 interceptions. He brings good size, good speed, good instincts and coverage skills. He lacks some experience and can be raw on the film but you are not going to find a perfect prospect with the 24th pick. The Packers passed on Patrick Queen last season after a trade up, they can not make the same mistake again with failing to address the defense or they will regret it in January.
1.25 Jacksonville Jaguars
The pick: Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
This is a very common pick in mock drafts and it makes sense as to why. After picking up the leader of the offense with the 1st pick Jacksonville needs to turn their focus to defense with either this pick or the 33rd. Defensive tackle could be an area they look to fill here but at the end of the day they have Jarrod Wilson starting at FS and Rayshawn Jenkins at SS, that needs to be improved and why not do it with the best safety in the class in Trevon Moehrig. Some of you reading may know that I cover the Big 12 and so I have seen plenty of the 6’1” 200 lbs free safety from Spring Branch, TX. He is a ball hawk and his past as a cornerback definitely plays a major role in that. In three seasons Moehrig had 7 interceptions, a number that does not tell the whole story as far as his ball skills go. He carries good size and speed, powerful tackling ability and good body control with the ball in the air. Most agree his 2020 season was not as good as his previous year but that likely is more of him balling out in 2019 than him “struggling” in 2020. It was far from a bad season for Moehrig and with his size and ball skills it is hard to imagine nobody jumping on him early in a class that is relatively weak at safety.
1.26 Cleveland Browns
The pick: Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
After scooping Jadevon Clowney late in free agency I have the Brownies going back to the defensive line with the 26th pick. A cornerback could be targeted here but with Surtain, Horn, Newsome and Farley all off the board the would be looking guys like Asante Samuel, Eric Stokes and Ifeatu Melifonwu which is a little rich at 26. Some might clamor for a receiver like Terrance Marshall, Rondale Moore or Elijah Moore and although that makes some sense I don’t see the Browns going in that direction. And so, Crimson Tide DT Christian Barmore is the solution to all Cleveland’s problems. At 6’4” 310 lbs he brings the ideal size for a run stuffer and that proved true at Alabama; 15.5 tackles for loss and 10.0 sacks in two seasons is quite frankly ridiculous. At just 21 years old Barmore has produced more than anybody at his age and position. Of course that young age does mean he is raw in some areas and it may take him some time to be a consistent player for Cleveland but once he gets on the field he will be a force in the middle of that defensive line.
1.27 Baltimore Ravens
The pick: Terrace Marshall, WR, LSU
Here we have one of the best fits in the entire class. The Ravens have a glaring need at wide receiver and although they have made attempts to improve there it just has not worked out. That brings us to one of the most pro ready receivers in this class in Terrace Marshall Jr. 6’2”, 205 lbs, 32.75” arm length, big hands and speed. That is the type of receiver Baltimore needs. Marshall has yet to put up big big numbers but he’s had back to back seasons with 10+ touchdowns and he has consistently shown the ability to make really tough catches. The problem for Marshall ironically is catching the hard passes with ease but sometimes dropping the easy ones. There were definitely too many drops for Terrace at LSU and whichever team picks him up will have to slap him on the jugs machine but his raw talent and frame should be enough to make him an instant impact player for Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.
1.28 New Orleans Saints
The pick: Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
The Saints are in a really really interesting position. They just lost a legend in Drew Brees to retirement and even with Famous Jameis Winston they are still in search of the heir apparent to Brees, the problem you may ask? They pick 28th and unless they want to jump on Stanford QB Davis Mills they will need to look elsewhere at this pick. Enter Jaelan Phillps, the best pure talent pass rusher in this class. The reason he is even close to this pick is because of consistent injury problems that plagued him across two colleges. In two seasons at UCLA Phillips played just 10 games in total and in one season at Miami he again played 10 games. He has suffered concussions, ankle injuries, wrist injuries, and the general wear and tear that comes with the sport. That is a real concern despite his very real talent. Phillips draft stock is hard to predict from the outside as he could either be a top 12 pick with a clean bill of health or a late 1st rounder with a bad health report. Whichever it is, that team is getting a stud, whether or not he can stay healthy and out of concussion protocol is the question.
1.29 Pittsburgh Steelers
The pick: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
There might be more mock drafts with Harris to Pittsburgh than there is Lawrence to Jacksonville. The Pittsburgh front office has been openly courting both Harris and Etienne and the consensus at least in the media level is they will pick whichever they end up liking more. With Ben Roethlisberger aging and losing ability the Steelers need a guy who can take some of the pressure off in the backfield. As much as I like Etienne, I think the guy that fits more here is Najee Harris. At 6’2” 230 lbs he can often look like a big linebacker running the ball that also somehow has 4.45 speed. Over four years Najee totaled 3,843 rushing yards, 46 rushing touchdowns, and he averaged 6.0 yards per attempt, that is what Pittsburgh needs. Since the Le’veon Bell era they haven’t found a consistent long term solution at RB and with James Connor departing for Arizona they now lack depth as well. It is long overdue for a pick like this in Pittsburgh.
1.30 Buffalo Bills
The pick: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
It’s hard to find almost anything in an NFL Draft that is a guarantee, something I am willing to guarantee however is Azeez Ojulari going in the first round. The NFL has this thing, if you are young, big but also fast, productive and athletic, you are a first round pick. Olujari is all of those things. At just 20 years old he is 6’2” 250 lbs with a ridiculous wing span and massive hands, he ran a 4.63u 40 time and put up 9.5 sacks last year with 12.5 tackles for loss. The Bills can go a number of directions here: running back, cornerback, pass rush or even offensive line. Ultimately, this is a little early for the remaining corners and pass rush should be prioritized over running back this early in the draft. Azeez Olujari fits the 3-4 scheme in Buffalo and fills a need with their aging pass rusher group, quality pick for Buffalo here.
1.31 Baltimore Ravens
The pick: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
And here we have the newly acquired 31st pick by the Ravens front office. It took a good amount to get it, (a pro bowl tackle and their 2nd rounder this year to be exact) but they do have it. For Baltimore I really don’t see a reality where they pass on a receiver at 27, that leaves this pick to either EDGE or OT in my mind and with Ojulari going right before this they land their Orlando Brown replacement in Teven Jenkins. Few could have predicted a year ago that Jenkins would be off the board before Liam Eichenberg, Sam Cosmi, Dillon Radunz, and Jalen Mayfield, but that is now the expectation in NFL circles. At 6’5” 315 lbs Jenkins is solidified as a tackle to me, I don’t see a move inside happening for this redshirt senior. He has experience at both right and left tackle and serious power in his hands. The Ravens have a multitude of options with this pick; they could trade back, package both picks in a trade up, double up at receiver, or like I said go EDGE/OT in a need filler pick. While I could see all those options happening the one that makes the most sense is filling the hole left by Orlando Brown and snagging a good young piece to restore the offensive line. Teven Jenkins is that guy.
1.32 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The pick: Landon Dickerson, IOL, Alabama
Back to back offensive lineman to conclude this mock draft, because truly what is more exciting than that. In all seriousness, Tampa Bay has barely any needs and barring injury nobody they draft will start, that is why I think Landon Dickerson makes a ton of sense for them. An ACL tear has hurt his draft stock but before that he was an easy first round pick as a center. The reason this ACL tear is such a big deal is because it is his 2nd in his collegiate career. That means it is not just “how is he recovering”, it is also is this a trend? How can his knees hold up in the NFL after two college ACL tears? On top of those concerns his size certainly does not help him in that area, at 6’6” 333 lbs are his knees almost inevitably going to sustain more injuries? The truth is we don’t know, all we do know is he is incredibly talented and also incredibly risky. Perfect pick for a Super Bowl team with limited needs in my opinion.