Mock Draft 2.0
Tonight is round one of the long-awaited NFL Draft. Rumors regarding trades and prospects are flooding the media. While most of this information is likely smokescreens from NFL teams, I sifted through to determine what players will be selected where. In this second and final mock draft, I predict what I think teams will do on Thursday night. After some chalk picks at 1 and 2, there are multiple trades and surprises throughout. Here is my Mock Draft 2.0:
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
Do I really need to explain this one?
2. New York Jets: QB Zach Wilson, BYU
The Jets have maintained interest in Wilson for weeks now. All signs point to him being their next signal caller.
3. San Francisco 49ers: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State
I truly believe that the 49ers will be choosing between Lance and Justin Fields. Mac Jones cannot improve much from his current play. Lance and Fields have major upside and untapped potential. If the 49ers were to select Jones and he became a bust, it is indefensible for GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan. This pick is pivotal for the future of the franchise.
4. Atlanta Falcons: TE Kyle Pitts, Florida
Rumors have swirled around this pick throughout the draft process. It is truly a wild card. There will be no shortage of calls from teams looking to move up to this spot. The Falcons have reportedly already rejected an offer from the Lions to swap the 4th and 7th picks, as the Lions wanted to secure Ja’Marr Chase. I believe that the Falcons could get a bounty of picks from a desperate team on draft night, but for now I have them staying and picking potentially the most talented player in the draft.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: OT Penei Sewell, Oregon
While reports say the Bengals are interested in Ja’Marr Chase at this pick, they must protect Joe Burrow, who is coming back from an ACL tear. It does not matter who is playing wide receiver if Burrow cannot get the ball out of his hands. Penei Sewell is an extremely talented player and can protect Burrow’s blind side for the foreseeable future.
6. Miami Dolphins: WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
The Dolphins supposedly favor Jaylen Waddle over Ja’Marr Chase at this spot, but I’m not sure that I buy that report. You cannot believe any information that “leaks” during draft week because teams are releasing fake information to influence picks or facilitate a trade. After their two trades a few weeks ago, the Dolphins add the best receiver in the draft to give Tua Tagovailoa multiple elite weapons.
7. Detroit Lions: LB Micah Parsons, Penn State
I believe that the Lions will also get offers on draft night and likely could trade down from this spot. However, rumors that the Lions were looking to trade up contradict this sentiment. I chose to have them select a versatile franchise linebacker in Parsons, as the Lions have stated that they need to add at that position. I also would not be surprised if the Lions selected Jaylen Waddle or Devonta Smith here due to their reported interest in Chase and their depleted receiving corps.
8. New England Patriots: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
Our first trade of this mock allows the Patriots to draft their franchise quarterback. The Patriots give the Panthers their second round pick this year and next year’s third round pick in exchange for this pick. Fields has been criminally underrated throughout this draft process, allowing the Patriots to take advantage of his mini-slide. Fields has the opportunity to learn from Cam Newton and potentially start this season.
9. Washington Football Team: QB Mac Jones, Alabama
The Washington Football team executes the second trade on draft night, sending their 19th overall pick, 2nd round pick and next year’s second rounder to the Broncos. WFT has reportedly been making calls about sliding into the top 10 for the past two weeks. With the slide of Mac Jones, they take the chance to draft their QB of the future, who can learn behind journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick.
10. Dallas Cowboys: CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina
The Cowboys are reported to be “locked-in” on defense with this pick, which is what was reported last year before they selected WR Ceedee Lamb. However, the Cowboys defense was atrocious last year and needs to improve. Jaycee Horn is reportedly the Cowboys top defensive target and can immediately upgrade their defense.
11. New York Giants: OT Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
The Giants have been rumored to be interested in Micah Parsons, Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, Kwity Paye, Jaycee Horn, Patrick Surtain, Penei Sewell, etc. They’ve also been rumored to be interested in trading up to the 8th pick and down to the 15th and 20th picks. Essentially, the Giants have given the media no indication of who they’ll pick, which is exactly what GM Dave Gettleman and head coach Joe Judge want. Slater, in my opinion, is the best player available here and allows the Giants to give Daniel Jones the best chance to succeed this season. Slater can start right away at virtually any spot on the offensive line.
12. Philadelphia Eagles: WR Jaylen Waddle
Even after trading down, the Eagles get the guy they probably would have selected at the 6th pick. Waddle has game-breaking speed and is a gritty player. The Eagles reunite him with his former college QB Jalen Hurts in an effort to correct last year’s mistake in selecting Jalen Reagor.
13. Los Angeles Chargers: WR Devonta Smith, Alabama
Almost every mock draft has the Chargers selecting an offensive tackle. However, they are reportedly comfortable with starting Trey Pipkins on the left side. While they could just be posturing for leverage, I think there might be some truth to this. With the top two tackles off the board, the Chargers select Mike Williams’ successor in the Heisman-trophy winner.
14. Minnesota Vikings: OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
I love this fit for the Vikings, as they need help on the offensive line to protect Kirk Cousins. Vera-Tucker has played full seasons at both guard and tackle. He is a physical lineman and can win in both run blocking and pass protection, which fits well with the Vikings play-action heavy scheme.
15. Carolina Panthers: CB Patrick Surtain, Alabama
The Panthers have taken calls from multiple teams about trading down in the last week. They pull the trigger here, with New England offering multiple premiere picks. The Panthers are still able to get an elite cornerback to upgrade their lackluster defense. While I’m sure fans would prefer that they select an offensive lineman, the value of Surtain at this spot is too good to pass up.
16. Arizona Cardinals: LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa
The Cardinals barely miss out on Surtain and choose not to reach on another corner at this spot. Instead, they add another versatile piece to their defense to go alongside last year’s first round pick Isaiah Simmons. Collins can be a sneaky-good addition to bolster the Cardinals defense, as Collins can add to the pass rush and cover in space.
17. Las Vegas Raiders: OT Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech
The Raiders avoid reaching for the third draft in a row, instead opting to take Darrisaw, a likely day 1 starter. After making major changes on the offensive line, the Raiders need to add a right tackle to protect Derek Carr. While Darrisaw is viewed as a left tackle, the move from left to right is not seen as a difficult one.
18. Miami Dolphins: RB Najee Harris, Alabama
The Dolphins reunite former Alabama teammates Najee Harris and Tua Tagovailoa. Harris is a dangerous rushing and receiving threat out of the backfield that offers better balance to the Dolphins offense. While the Dolphins had serviceable halfbacks last season, Harris offers a notable upgrade over Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed and Patrick Laird.
19. Denver Broncos: LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koromoah, Notre Dame
After trading for Teddy Bridgewater, the Broncos are potentially out of the quarterback sweepstakes in this draft. Instead, they take advantage of a team desperate for a quarterback, adding multiple picks to help fill out the roster. Owusu-Koromoah is a versatile player that can play safety and linebacker, adding an intriguing element to the Broncos defense.
20. Chicago Bears: CB Greg Newsome, Northwestern
The Bears miss out on the top quarterbacks in the class after opting not to trade up. With no offensive tackles of value at this spot, the Bears add a very good cornerback to their already elite defense. However, I do believe that the Bears will be active in exploring a trade on draft night, as Andy Dalton is not a long-term answer at quarterback. If they decide to make a move, it will be very costly.
21. New Orleans Saints: CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
Recent reports have linked the Saints to Farley and a potential trade up. I believe the Saints may do just that, especially if three cornerbacks are already off the board. They leapfrog the Titans, who may also be interested in selecting a corner, trading this year’s third and fourth round picks to the Colts. While some are concerned about Farley’s back surgeries, his upside may be attractive enough for the Saints to pull the trigger.
22. Tennessee Titans: WR Elijah Moore, Ole Miss
With the top corners off the board, the Titans select a dynamic replacement for Corey Davis. The Titans lost Davis and TE Jonnu Smith in free agency this offseason, so adding more firepower will be very important in the draft. The best comparison for Moore that I have seen is Brandin Cooks, as both can be consistent receivers at the sticks, but can break open the game at any point.
23. New York Jets: DE Jaelan Phillips, Miami
While the Jets may be tempted to take a running back at this spot, the value of Phillips is enticing. Phillips is a talented pass rusher that could thrive in Robert Saleh’s defense. Phillips’ questions about his concussion history led to this slide down draft boards, but he should still be a first round pick. The Jets take the risk on Phillips here, which could pay off tremendously if he can avoid injuries.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: RB Travis Etienne, Clemson
The Steelers run game was anemic last season, as the offensive line and running backs both under-performed. Big Ben’s contract prevented them from adding to either position, so both offensive line and running back are in play at this spot. However, with a deep offensive line class, the Steelers opt to take Etienne, who likely would not be available if they waited until the second round. His home-run hitting ability can help jumpstart the Steelers run game.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars: OT Alex Leatherwood, Alabama
The Jaguars are at a pivotal point in their development. They must protect Trevor Lawrence at all costs. Leatherwood can do just that. He is a versatile offensive lineman that can slot in at any spot on the line. As a key part to the nation’s best offensive line last season, Leatherwood should be able to start right away.
26. Cleveland Browns: DT Christian Barmore, Alabama
Following the signing of Jadeveon Clowney, the Browns no longer need help at edge rusher. However, they released DT Sheldon Richardson in order to bring in Clowney. Barmore can step in and take over Richardson’s role on day one, plugging the one hole on the Browns roster. This team can be a serious contender next season.
27. Baltimore Ravens: WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota
The Ravens must bring in a weapon for Lamar Jackson on the outside. His development has been hindered by inconsistent wide receiver play. While the Ravens did draft Marquise Brown two years ago, he is not the answer. Bateman is a big-body receiver that can consistently make 10-15 yard catches. He can add an element to this offense that it has not had in many years.
28. Indianapolis Colts: OT Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame
No offensive tackle had the right value to be selected at the 21st pick. Chris Ballard opted to add third and fourth round picks from the Saints in order to continue his streak of finding good players in the middle rounds. The Colts draft their potential plug-and-play starter at left tackle in Eichenberg, as they must fill the hole left by Anthony Castonzo, who retired this offseason.
29. Green Bay Packers: WR Rondale Moore, Purdue
While the Packers may draft an offensive lineman here, I’m not sure that they would have any graded for this spot. Instead, they add a gadget wide receiver to complement Davante Adams in the offense. Moore can fill a similar role to that of Randall Cobb, who was extremely productive in the Packers offense. Moore is faster and more dynamic than Cobb, which can prove to be very enticing for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers front office.
30. Buffalo Bills: DE Kwity Paye, Michigan
Kwity Paye is a wildcard in this draft. There are rumors that he could be taken by the Giants at 11, but after that he could go at any point. He is a raw player and has suffered from multiple injuries in his career, making him difficult to project. The Bills take him here to upgrade their pass rush. After seeing how the Buccaneers were able to take down the Chiefs in the Super Bowl, the Bills may look to follow a similar pattern in order to make it out of the AFC.
31. Baltimore Ravens: OT Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State
The Ravens traded Orlando Brown to the Chiefs five days ago, acquiring this pick as part of the package. Brown leaves behind a hole at right tackle, which the Ravens may plug with a veteran stopgap. However, Jenkins poses good value at this spot. He is a right tackle by nature and can step right into the starting role. The Ravens may still sign a veteran tackle as insurance for this pick, but Jenkins could fill the hole long-term.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DE Gregory Rousseau, Miami
The Buccaneers return their entire roster from last year’s Super Bowl winning team. There are no holes on this team. They will be poised to make another deep run into the playoffs this season. I have them selecting Rousseau at this spot because he is frequently compared to Jason Pierre-Paul, who is a starting defensive end on this team. Rousseau can be a rotational pass rusher while learning from JPP and Shaq Barrett, eventually taking over a starting role when Pierre-Paul’s contract expires.