Just yesterday it seemed as if the NFL season wouldn’t be played to its full extent, but now we’re approaching the end of the season and yes, NFL draft season. Week 16 was hands down the most disruptive week we’ve seen in 2020 in terms of draft positioning. There was a large amount of movement at the top of the draft such as the Panthers plummeting five spots and the Dolphins jumping up three. There is still one final week to find out the official draft order, but as of right now there is enough solid information to give an educated enough guess on how the NFL draft will shake out.
Or as some of you like to call it, a mock draft.
Disclaimer: Due to there being four months before the draft, I will surely not try and predict any trades as that would immediately invalidate this mock, but instead give my best estimate on what each team SHOULD do in the 1st round. Note the key word “SHOULD” so if your team’s GM doesn’t listen, shame on them.
This is my 1st official Mock Draft of the season and I have much more on the way so feel free to reach out on my Twitter.
- Jacksonville Jaguars Trevor Lawrence QB Clemson – No brainer pick here for the Jaguars as they get one of the best QB prospects to enter the draft in recent memory. Trevor Lawrence gives “DUVAL” a major sign or hope, and with $100 million+ in cap space this offseason, the future’s looking bright for the Jaguars.
- New York Jets Penei Sewell OT Oregon – After losing the right to the #1 overall pick, the Jets now have 3 options: Trade down to acquire assets, draft a QB in hopes that he’ll become their star, or keep Darnold as your QB and take the BPA. Since it’s far too early to be predicting draft-day trades, I’ll go with option C as the best choice. Yes, taking a QB is exciting for the fans, but if the Jets can reset your roster with two top tier tackles in Sewell (an absolute mauler and generational talent) and Mekhi Becton, and add weapons later in the draft, this offense will have the necessary ingredients to thrive.
- Miami Dolphins Ja’Marr Chase WR LSU – Miami is in desperate need of playmakers at WR for Tua, period. Miami has the choice between Chase, Pitts, and Smith, but with an already talented TE room, they add a receiver who has consistently been touted as the WR 1 of this class after recording 60+ receptions and 1800+ yards his sophomore season. With Miami already having two downfield receiving threats in DeVante Parker and Preston WIlliams, Chase’s ability to thrive on intermediate and short route concepts will be a much needed aspect for this offense. Number three overall may seem too high to pick a WR which is why we could see a small trade down in order to capitalize on the value of this pick.
- Atlanta Falcons Micah Parsons LB Penn State – I know Falcons fans would love to see a QB here, but with Matt Ryan under contract for two more years expect for them to go BPA on the defensive side of the ball. Another option was going the CB route but Parsons provides too much dynamic athleticism which will be a major factor right away alongside stud Deion Jones. Parsons instincts and versatility to play in various different roles of a defense will give the Falcons new HC and GM a major chess piece to play with.
- Cincinnati Bengals Kyle Pitts TE Florida – While Bengals fans around the country have been eyeing Penei Sewell, they won’t have a chance at him anymore, but their focus now turns to surrounding Joe Burrow with playmakers. As far as playmaking goes, there’s no better way to accomplish this than by selecting the player who put college football on notice the past two seasons. Number five overall may seem high for a tight end, but when you consider the fact that Pitts is a 6’6 245 pound wide receiver in a tight end’s body, and he didn’t drop a single pass this past season, you’ll understand why he belongs here. Pitts is one of the most surefire selections in this draft, and he immediately gives Burrow a much needed receiving threat.
- Philadelphia Eagles DeVonta Smith WR Alabama – The Eagles have major questions to answer about this organization such as Doug Pederson’s future, Carson Wentz, and what to do about the aging offensive line, but there is one thing we know for sure, they need offensive weapons. While others are sold on Ja’Marr Chase as the WR1 in this class, I wouldn’t be shocked to see teams start to become enamored with Smith given the fact he dominated CFB this season while Chase opted out, and he’ll be far more impressive in pre-draft workouts due to his dynamic athleticism.
- Detroit Lions Zach Wilson QB BYU- With the Lions needing a new GM and HC, it looks as if this organization wants a fresh clean slate, and there’s no better way to do this than by adding the incredibly talented Wilson. Obviously the Lions have Matthew Stafford and have major needs on the defensive side of the ball, but given Stafford’s recent injury history, and a mere two years left on his contract gives us a reason to believe they could part ways for a younger franchise QB. Wilson’s 2020 season has displayed his unique arm talent and the much needed leadership and confidence qualities in a QB. With the two QB’s sharing a similar gunslinging mentality, Wilson will be put in a situation to thrive for the rest of his career.
- New York Giants Kwity Paye EDGE Michigan – The Giants have two major needs of a pass rush and an “X” receiver, and Paye gives the most bang for their buck at #10. The Michigan edge rusher has shot up draft boards this season due to being arguably the most productive pass rusher in the BIG 10, and having a freakish athletic profile at 6’4 270 pounds. Paye definitely needs to refine his skills as a pass rusher with him mainly winning on pure power and athleticism, but that keeps the potential for this selection sky high.
- Carolina Panthers Justin Fields QB Ohio State – Yes the Panthers signed Bridgewater to a 3 year contract for 63 million dollars, but given their option to get out of his contract after 2021, he’s the perfect veteran QB to segway Carolina into their next phase of the rebuild. With Fields, head coach Matt Rhule gets to develop his team around a potential franchise QB who has consistently shown an NFL level arm. This selection could be either Fields or Wilson, but Fields is going to give the Panthers a higher level of security as he was the #1 high school prospect in his class and has two years of terrific college production vs Wilson’s single breakout year. The Fields era starts in Carolina.
- Denver Broncos Caleb Farley CB Virginia Tech – You’ll definitely be hearing fans vouching for a new QB to replace Drew Lock, but as long as Vic Fangio is the HC, this defense will be the powerhouse of the team. Having Farley fall to 10 is an absolute steal for Denver as he’s my CB 1 and has immense potential. Despite recently transitioning to cornerback from the wide receiver position, he put out the best film of this class, and would be the #2 behind Jeff Okudah last year. I know Broncos fans don’t want to deal with another rookie cornerback, but Farley has the potential to be a lockdown corner for years to come.
- Dallas Cowboys Patrick Surtain III CB Alabama – The Cowboys as a whole seem to be in absolute turmoil, but with all odds on Dak Prescott returning to the team healthy next year, they should be looking to vastly improve their defense. While they could go the pass rusher route, Patrick Surtain is far too talented to pass up here at 10, and it fills a need as well. Dallas’s pass defense was one of the worst in the league this season and Surtain’s film of him sitting on an island with a receiver in man-to-man coverage is as enticing of a cornerback film as you’ll ever see. He has the physical traits and film to back up a top-15 selection, and gets to be paired with his former teammate in Trevon Diggs.
- Los Angeles Chargers Christian Darrisaw OT Virginia Tech – The Chargers major priority this offseason needs to be building around their franchise QB Justin Herbert, and while Jaylen Waddle would be a fun selection here, championship teams are built in the trenches. Darrisaw is a terrific lineman prospect and immediately gives the Chargers a franchise LT to keep Herbert off of the ground.
- Minnesota Vikings Rashawn Slater OT – The Vikings could be looking to go QB here, but with the offensive line a complete mess, they go for versatility here at 13. Slater has shown the ability to play every position on the line except for C, so whether or not Minnesoata chooses to resign Riley Rieff, Slater will find a spot at LG or LT. The Vikings offense is predicated on their consistent rushing attack so it’s necessary that they fortify this offensive line.
- New England Patriots QB Trey Lance – The Patriots are in uncharted territory after being knocked out of the playoff race for the first time in 15 years, which makes this pick of much more importance. The New England offense desperately needs playmakers but with the top talents being off the board, they draft their potential franchise QB. Cam Newton isn’t the answer and neither is Jarrett Stidham, so if Trey Lance is sitting here, a prospect who’s displayed all the physical tools to be an NFL QB, Josh McDaniels should be licking his chops.
- San Francisco 49ers Jaycee Horn CB South Carolina – The 49ers are definitely in the market for a QB, but if they can’t select one of the top four, then they turn their attention to the biggest need: cornerback. Jaycee Horn is a corner who shot up the boards after one of the most dominating performances of the season against Auburn with four pass deflections and two interceptions against a NFL prospect in Seth Williams. The 49ers cornerback group is extremely thin with Richard Sherman becoming a free agent, and Horn gives this roster a physical specimen who thrives in man-to-man coverage.
- Las Vegas Raiders Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah LB Notre Dame – The Raiders have now fallen out of the playoff picture which turns all eyes toward the draft, and the defense could use some work. They could definitely take an EDGE like Azeez Ojulari to bolster the pass rush, but JOK gives Jon Gruden a true sideline-to-sideline LB with freakish athleticism and instincts to immediately improve the front 7.
- Arizona Cardinals Kadarius Toney WR Florida – The Cardinals need playmakers to pair with DeAndre Hopkins, and they need them badly. There is great value here with pass rushers so an EDGE like Gregory Rousseau or Joseph Ossai could be in play, but they’ll reach for the dynamic Florida playmaker. This receivers class has the potential to be historic, but still despite putting up 1,100+ yards from scrimmage and being the human joystick he displayed on film, he’s not getting as much love as he deserves. Once the NFL combine roles around and he continues to display his pure playmaking abilities with the ball in his hands, he’ll be considered a mid 1st rounder, which will help bring this Arizona offense to new heights.
- Indianapolis Colts Jaylen Waddle WR Alabama – The Colts have built a well-rounded roster from the trenches up, and despite needing a QB to develop behind Philip Rivers, the only major hole on this roster is wide receiver with TY Hilton getting older and potentially leaving in free agency. While we could see Waddle fall in the draft due to his season ending foot injury, he has the dynamic receiving ability to be worth a top 10 pick, so this is a steal for Indy.
- Chicago Bears Samuel Cosmi OT Texas – With Allen Robinson hitting free agency and the offensive line a mess, the Bears will be attacking the offensive side of the ball. With the uncertainty at the QB position and the rest of the offense, the Bears need to fortify the offensive line to build some continuity on this team, and the Texas tackle is a step in the right direction.
- Washington Football Team Rashod Bateman WR Minnesota – Washington is currently fielding a Top-5 unit on the defensive side of the ball, so the focus will be on the offensive side. They could go offensive tackle here but Bateman has the build of a legit “X” receiver with his 6’2 frame and superb catch radius which will create a deadly duo with Scary Terry. Whoever Washington selects to be their QB for 2021 will have a terrific supporting cast of Antonio Gibson, Bateman, McLaurin and Logan Thomas, a step in the right direction for this offense.
- Jacksonville Jaguars Alijah Vera-Tucker IOL USC – After selecting their franchise QB #1 overall, it’s necessary to protect him up front, as evidenced by Joe Burrow’s rookie campaign without an adequate line. Jacksonville takes a versatile lineman who may not have the upside of Ohio State IOL Wyatt Davis, but will give them the versatility to play all 5 positions on the line.
- Cleveland Browns Gregory Rousseau EDGE Miami – If Cleveland can hold onto their playoff spot and add a potential superstar in Rousseau, then their fans should be crying tears of joy. The main reason Rousseau fell this far is due to him opting out of the 2020 season and being a significantly unrefined prospect. Similar to former LSU EDGE rusher K’Lavon Chaisson, he won at the collegiate level purely off of his freakish athleticism, and will need to develop a broader pass rushing repertoire to succeed at the next level. Luckily for him, if he lands with the Browns he gets to learn the ropes from a top DE in Myles Garrett.
- Miami Dolphins Zaven Collins LB Tulsa – After taking a stud WR early in the first and passing on the top LB prospect in Parsons, they get around to drafting another versatile LB to fit the Brian Flores defense. Collins is a dynamic 6’4 260 pound linebacker that thrives in all three levels of the defense, and with his elite athleticism, Flores will find a role for this Miami defense in the future, even if Collins takes a couple years to find his groove.
- Baltimore Ravens Carlos Basham Jr. EDGE Wake Forest – The consensus seems to be that Baltimore will take an offensive weapon here, but the Ravens have been known for disruptive defenses, and this draft is no different. Carlos Bashmam Jr. isn’t seen as a 1st round pick, but in my eyes, his performance at Wake Forest makes him a no brainer. Basham lacks the elite bend of Azeez Ojulari and athleticism of other edge rushers, but he was extremely productive and has a well-refined skill set that will enable him to step in and immediately contribute on this playoff contending roster.
- Tennessee Titans Shaka Toney EDGE Penn State – The Titans pass rush has been embarrassing in 2020, and there is a major need to immediately upgrade it, and Toney is a prime candidate. He’s another prospect that isn’t regularly in the 1st round conversation, but after he tests extraordinarily well at the combine due to his freakish athleticism, and teams see consistent production on his film, they won’t be worried about the backlash. Toney is another EDGE that can immediately contribute in both the run and pass game, which will help take Tennessee’s mind off of a failed Jadeveon Clowney experiment.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers Marvin Wilson IDL Florida State – The Buccaneers are looking to head deep into the playoffs this season, so this offseason should be about replenishing talent wherever is possible, and the defensive line is a terrific first step. With Ndamukong Suh and Shaq Barrett entering free agency, Tampa Bay should look to add to their pass rush and Wilson’s elite physical tools are going to be enough for the Buccaneers to look past his inconsistent play and see his immense potential.
- New York Jets Travis Etienne RB Clemson – With the Jets in massive need of a playmaker, they get one of College Football’s most electric playmakers in Etienne. It is risky taking a RB in the first round, but with another selection at the top of the 2nd, they can afford to secure Etienne’s diverse skill set. Etienne’s playstyle is nearly identical to that of Alvin Kamara with him being utilized in both the run and the pass game. Etienne’s explosiveness will hopefully provide a much needed spark to this offense along with hopefully free agent acquisitions at the receiver position.
- Buffalo Bills Asante Samuel Jr. CB Florida State – Samuel Jr. is one of my draft crushes for 2021 as he displayed his potential all throughout his collegiate career. The way I describe Samuel Jr. is magnetic, as he’s technically sound and rarely caught out of position. He’s a tad undersized at 5’10, but the Bills are going to fall in love with his ability to make the big hits, similar to his father, former NFL CB, Asante Samuel.
- New Orleans Saints Mac Jones QB Alabama – Jones was one of the easiest evaluations of this entire draft class as he’s a game managing QB who will thrive in an ideal environment like New Orleans. Jones is currently a Heisman Trophy Candidate as he’s led a talented Alabama roster to another prolific season, and with the offensive line that the Saints are rolling out, Jones lands in the ideal situation. It’s clear that Brees will be retiring soon and that Taysom Hill and Winston are strictly backup QB’s, so Jones will have the chance to replace the future Hall-of-Fame QB.
- Pittsburgh Steelers Alex Leatherwood OT Alabama – The Steelers have severely regressed after their 11-0 start to the season, and this is in large part due to their abysmal offense. The exciting pick would be a QB like Kyle Trask here, but with Pittsburgh losing three starting lineman to free agency, they need to replenish the talent. Leatherwood provides versatility on the offensive line, but has performed well enough at Alabama that leads us to believe he could be their franchise LT.
- Green Bay Packers Jaylen Twyman DT Pittsburgh – The Packers have fielded one of the worst rushing defenses over the past two seasons as evidenced by their NFC Championship game last season, and they could use the quick first step and pure power of the Pittsburgh product. The Packers currently have stud DT Kenny Clark but have needed a tag-team partner for him for quite some time, and Twyman would be an ideal partner. Yes, Twyman is “undersized at 6’2 290 pounds, but so was another Pittsburgh alum: Aaron Donald. Just saying…
- Kansas City Chiefs Wyatt Davis IOL Ohio State – Offensive line is never a sexy selection but it is necessary if you have a quarterback worth $500 million sitting back in the pocket. Wyatt Davis is my IOL #1 as he has dominated over the course of his career at OSU, and will give the Chiefs another stud to add to this line. In order to create a true Kansas City Chiefs dynasty, there needs to be continuity on the offensive line, and Davis is a terrific addition this late in the 1st round.