By: Julian Quintero
The NFL Draft is literally right around the corner, and this year looks to be the year of the QB! A lot of talented players are in this class, and teams are making crazy deals, as seen with San Francisco. With that being said, I will not be predicting any potential trades that can be coming. Let’s hop into this mock draft, where I attempt to predict the NFL crapshoot to the best of my abilities.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
Needs: QB, WR, DL, CB, S
Pick: Trevor Lawrence - Quarterback - Clemson
Reasoning: This is the obvious selection. With Marvin Jones and Phillip Dorsett coming to the team to help fix the receiving core, everything this off-season has been made to accommodate the arrival of Trevor Lawrence. As arguably the largest name in recent draft history, a lot of pressure will be on Trevor Lawrence’s shoulders to deliver on the hype he has had on himself since he was a freshman.
2. New York Jets
Needs: QB, LB, WR, TE, CB
Pick: Zach Wilson - Quarterback - BYU
Reasoning: The Jets have done similarly to what Jacksonville has done, with giving weapons on offense to whoever their man under center will be. That is where this pick comes into play. As a massive riser since the NCAA season ended, Zach Wilson is touted to be the second quarterback off the board in this year’s draft. A film junky with a prototypical build, Wilson looks to be the new QB for the Jets under their new coaching regime. Although this is totally based on what the coaching staff opts to do with Sam Darnold, it is looking more and more likely that Darnold ends up elsewhere for next season, with Wilson starting a new era in the Big Apple.
3. San Francisco 49ers (from MIA via HOU)
Needs: QB, WR, LB, CB, OL
Pick: Justin Fields - Quarterback - Ohio State
Reasoning: Another pick, another quarterback off of the board here for San Francisco, and for good reason. Despite Kyle Shanahan wanting Zach Wilson, it looks increasingly more unlikely that the BYU star falls past the 2nd pick. With that being said, Justin Fields seems to be the next pet project for the 49ers offensive guru, with Jimmy Garoppolo being a massive failure for the Bay. Fields was considered a lock for the second pick, so getting him at three is not a bad consolation prize for the Niners in this coming draft. The question now becomes: what does this mean for Jimmy G?
4. Atlanta Falcons
Needs: LB, DL, CB, S, TE
Pick: Kyle Pitts - Tight End - Florida
Reasoning: This is the awkward spot in the draft, being that the Atlanta front office doesn’t know what to do at the moment. They sit at a crossroads: do they start fresh, bring in Mac Jones or Trey Lance at 4 and trade their current players to embrace a rebuild? Or do they give this core one more shot? I say they do the latter this year, and take Kyle Pitts to join a receiving core that consists of Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Pitts is one of the most talented receiving options, either at wide receiver or at tight end, in this year’s draft. His addition gives Matt Ryan another option and makes it harder for a defense to focus solely on Jones or Ridley when going back in coverage.
5. Cincinnati Bengals
Needs: OL, WR, TE, DL, CB
Pick: Ja’Marr Chase - Wide Receiver - LSU
Reasoning: Joe Burrow was fighting for his life last season, behind an offensive line that looked like it had gone three rounds with a cheese grater. Even with that, and even with their franchise quarterback coming off of an injury, the Bengals will go with talent at the skill positions. Chase is a former teammate of Burrow’s and is considered one of the top receiving options in this draft. With AJ Green and John Ross leaving, options out wide are scarce in Cincy. Burrow’s connection to him, plus a team need, basically assures Chase as the fifth player coming off of the board in this draft. The Bengals then would have to focus on the offensive line, but with the amount of holes they have, this seems like the start to a massive rebuilding process down in Ohio.
6. Miami Dolphins (From PHI)
Needs: OL, LB, DL, WR, RB
Pick: Penei Sewell - Offensive Tackle - Oregon
Reasoning: The best offensive lineman is still on the board, and for a team that struggled to protect their (hopeful) franchise QB and be able to excel in the ground game, this should be a no brainer. A potential trade down could be on the cards for the Dolphins since several QB needy teams are picking just after them. But in this case, they take the best talent on the board and it is one that will completely elevate the offense, especially after bringing in some offensive weapons for Tua Tagovailoa in free agency.
7. Detroit Lions
Needs: WR, OL, LB, S, CB
Pick: DeVonta Smith - Wide Receiver - Alabama
Reasoning: The Lions have had QUITE the off-season, with a lot of players leaving and new faces arriving. The holes or levels of unproven play is evident for them and have a lot of what-ifs for the coming season. Wide receiver is a big area of concern, as losing both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones is painful. Even with Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams coming in, they need a skilled option out wide, one that knows how to create separation. What better option is there than taking the Heisman winner that was literally known for his ability to create space between himself and the defender. Smith doesn’t have the “standard NFL build” for a wide receiver, but he won the Heisman for a reason and was absolutely insane at Alabama, almost single-handedly, well along with Jaylen Waddle, being the reason Mac Jones has had his stock fly over the past 12 months. He will be the man for Detroit in the future, but this draft needs to address the many holes the team has within them.
8. Carolina Panthers
Needs: QB, TE, WR, DL, LB
Pick: Trey Lance - Quarterback - North Dakota State
Reasoning: The need for a quarterback is really rising up in Carolina. Teddy Bridgewater was not the answer whatsoever and it seems they don’t trust PJ Walker that much. Lance is one of my favorite QBs in the draft, and even though the stock for Mac Jones is rising, I firmly believe that Lance is a better fit for the Panthers’ situation, and I feel that getting Lance in an offense with Christian McCaffrey will be the proper step in the right direction for the Panthers.
9. Denver Broncos
Needs: QB, CB, OL, RB, DL
Pick: Mac Jones - Quarterback - Alabama
Reasoning: John Elway has a track record for his selection of quarterbacks: tall, strong and white. Mac Jones fits the description and also has a close relationship with Jerry Jeudy. As a team with a strong wide receiver core, Jones has the physical traits that can fit in with this group. The question now becomes: is Jones going to turn out like all the past Elway draft selections, or is the rise in demand for the young man correctly justified? Only time will tell, but with Drew Lock not appearing to be the man Denver wants, moving on with a guy that has this much potential upside seems to be their best shot at returning to their glory days.
10. Dallas Cowboys
Needs: OL, CB, S, DL, LB
Pick: Rashawn Slater - Offensive Tackle - Northwestern
Reasoning: The Cowboys’ offensive line have been on a perpetual decline since their 13-3 season. Injuries and age have openly been the main reason for their decline. Although I thought a linebacker to help fix the injured core they hold, the Cowboys need to find a way to protect Dak Prescott at all costs, especially after his gruesome leg injury. Slater is a class tackle and proved it at Northwestern. He isn’t going to magically solve all of the Cowboys’ issues, but he surely will be the first piece in restructuring this aging offensive line.
11. New York Giants
Needs: CB, LB, S, WR, TE
Pick: Micah Parsons - Linebacker - Penn State
Reasoning: As one of the best defensive players in the draft, along with a team gravely needing defense in all aspects of the word, this may be a perfect match. New York needs more men in the front seven that can help put pressure and Micah Parsons is a sub 4.4 freak of nature that can for sure anchor the G-Men’s troublesome defense. As for other holes at wide receiver and at cornerback, Parsons is simply the best option for a position they didn’t fill in free agency.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (from MIA via SF)
Needs: WR, LB, CB, S, RB
Pick: Jaylen Waddle - Wide Receiver - Alabama
Reasoning: Speed, speed, speed. This young man has been called the twitchiest player available out-wide, and is considered by some to be the best wide receiver in the class. Despite this, connections of other guys see him potentially falling to 12, right into the laps of Philadelphia, a team that traded down. Needing a receiver, and having failed in picking the correct receiving options over the past years, this may be the final chance the Philadelphia front office has to make the right decision, before facing potential termination from ownership for being so poor in the draft.
13. Los Angeles Chargers
Needs: OL, TE, WR, CB, S
Pick: Christian Darrisaw - Offensive Tackle - Virginia Tech
Reasoning: The Chargers are going to reach in order to get protection for Justin Herbert, as they should. A potential trade down is in the cards for them, but since I am not going to predict the unpredictable, I say that Darrisaw is the guy for Los Angeles in this draft, whether it is at 13 or potentially in a slight trade down. Regardless, the Chargers should be targeting protection for their franchise quarterback and not commit the same mistakes many franchises have committed in the past.
14. Minnesota Vikings
Needs: OL, CB, S, DL, LB
Pick: Patrick Surtain - Cornerback - Alabama
Reasoning: Having picked up Patrick Peterson, a good secondary is crucial to stopping the aerial bombardment that today’s NFL has become. Patrick Surtain is arguably the best corner option in the draft. Add him to a strong veteran like Peterson and Harrison Smith, and the Vikings aerial defense becomes one of the best in the NFL.
15. New England Patriots
Needs: OL, DL, LB, WR, QB
Pick: Christian Barmore - Defensive Tackle - Alabama
Reasoning: Amazing big game player down in Tuscaloosa, and the Patriots are in need of a revamp to their defensive line. Watch Barmore become what Wilfork was for New England for so many years. With his large frame and tactical footwork, he can be what New England needs to get their defensive line back on track to what it used to be.
16. Arizona Cardinals
Needs: CB, S, TE, RB, LB
Pick: Jaycee Horn - Cornerback - South Carolina
Reasoning: An amazing pro day shot Horn from a late first rounder straight into the middle of the first round. This, along with a Patrick Peterson sized hole left in the defense, makes Arizona a perfect destination for the big bodied Horn. His physical stature alone makes him an enticing prospect, but the upside and hunger he demonstrated at South Carolina, along with his physical approach to the corner position makes Jaycee a great fit for the Cardinals here at 16th overall.
17. Las Vegas Raiders
Needs: CB, S, WR, OL, TE
Pick: Tre’von Moehrig - Safety - TCU
Reasoning: Arguably the best safety in the nation the past few years, Moehrig falling to Vegas is just the definition of lucky. I really like this, especially for one of the worst secondaries in football last year. In a world, as previously mentioned, that is dominated by the air ball, needing a good secondary is crucial. Trevon Moehrig is statistically sound during his time in college, and his abilities should translate seamlessly to the NFL.
18. Miami Dolphins
Needs: OL, LB, DL, WR, RB
Pick: Jaelen Phillips - Linebacker (EDGE) - Miami (FL)
Reasoning: A massive reach in the eyes of many, but if anyone has seen the Hurricanes edge rusher you would know he is literally the definition of explosive. Miami has him in their backyard and have a need to reestablish their pass rush, with Shaq Lawson having been traded and Kyle Van Noy having been cut. Phillips is a huge boom or bust prospect and is one that the Dolphins can definitely take a risk on this early, thanks to their amazing work in the front office.
19. Washington Football Team
Needs: WR, OL, QB, CB, S
Pick: Greg Newsome - Cornerback - Northwestern
Reasoning: A class act of a cornerback, Newsome was a major reason as to why Northwestern was so good last season. His metrics are amazing, and he is as smooth as silk when it comes to his movement. Trust me when I say, for a team that needs a little more from their secondary to back their scary front seven, Newsome is a great option to partner Fuller in the corner slots for the team in D.C.
20. Chicago Bears
Needs: QB, OL, WR, TE, RB
Pick: Tevin Jenkins - Offensive Tackle - Oklahoma State
Reasoning: Chicago may be in the market to trade up, but if that isn’t the case, they must take the best player available in their needs. Their needs? Options for whoever ends up under center for them, whether it is done through protection or through the actual players catching the passes. Tevin Jenkins is one of the most fluid offensive linemen in this draft, and I love his ability both in the passing game and in the run game. Could be considered a bit more raw for a lot of fans, but he is a rough, tough and mean offensive tackle that I firmly believe is one of the largest sleepers in the first round.
21. Indianapolis Colts
Needs: OL, S, CB, DL, LB
Pick: Walker Little - Offensive Tackle - Stanford
Reasoning: Since being one of the best in the business at developing offensive line talent, a hole being left by Anthony Castonzo is never an easy task. But that development? And a good tackle from Stanford coming in to anchor the blind side for many years to come? Walker Little has shown a lot of talent in his final games, and his pro day numbers are truly showing that, despite opting out of the 2020 season.
22. Tennessee Titans
Needs: WR, CB, S, DL, OL
Pick: Elijah Moore - Wide Receiver - Ole Miss
Reasoning: AJ Brown is the star wide receiver for the Titans, and has recently lost his partner in crime, Corey Davis, to the New York Jets. With that being said, the Titans have been in the market for a new wide receiver and with Josh Reynolds only signing a 1 year deal, they need to get a long term partner for Brown. Elijah Moore was amazing at Ole Miss, and knows Brown personally. With amazing grades when it comes to receivers, and already a good connection to the star in the Titans’ organization, Moore heading to Nashville would be beneficial for all parties involved.
23. New York Jets (from SEA)
Needs: QB, LB, WR, TE, CB
Pick: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah - Linebacker - Notre Dame
Reasoning: The Jets get their QB in Zach Wilson, so surrounding him with weapons seems like it would be the smartest option. However, here, I have them taking the linebacker from Notre Dame. Owusu-Koramoah is a Butkus winner, and has one of the higher coverage ratings among college linebackers last season. He will slot in and fill a hole the Jets are needing to fill. Besides, this is a deep class for receiving options. The Jets will most likely take a slot option in the second or third round.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Needs: OL, RB, DL, CB, S
Pick: Kwity Paye - Linebacker (EDGE) - Michigan
Reasoning: A physical specimen that would fill a gap that a recently departed Bud Dupree left on the edge rush. Paye has every single physical metric that Pittsburgh has historically had on their defense. Combine him with TJ Watt, along with a team known for getting sacks easily, and you should get a stud on a rookie contract in Paye.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from LAR)
Needs: QB, WR, DL, CB, S
Pick: Caleb Farley - Cornerback - Virginia Tech
Reasoning: An atrocious secondary was one of the main contributors to the worst season in Jacksonville Jaguars’ history. Adding a player who is a top 10 talent at 25 would be a no brainer in any situation. Sure, Caleb Farley has had injuries and that is why he would slide this far. But if the Jaguars need anything, it is a premier member of the secondary to help them out. A guy like Farley, though a big risk, would pay off in a massive way if his injuries haven’t slowed him down exponentially.
26. Cleveland Browns
Needs: CB, S, WR, DL, LB
Pick: Asante Samuel Jr - Cornerback - Florida State
Reasoning: Cleveland needs support in the secondary, and the corner spot has been the weakest it has ever been in years. Samuel Jr is a corner that has the amazing technique and natural ability to read the game that his father had. If Junior ends up as even a slightly worse version of his dad, this is one heck of a pick for a Browns team that believes they could contend soon.
27. Baltimore Ravens
Needs: DL, LB, OL, WR, CB
Pick: Jayson Oweh - Linebacker (EDGE) - Penn State
Reasoning: Despite being a raw prospect in the eyes of some, the pro day this man had is something that cannot be ignored at all.Ravens taking him to help a seemingly large pass-rushing problem would be a nice fit into a team trying to establish a physical and fast paced style on both ends of the field. Raw, fast and hungry to prove himself worth, Oweh looks to be the next defensive star out of Baltimore that we have seen over the past two decades.
28. New Orleans Saints
Needs: LB, DL, WR, TE, QB
Pick: Zaven Collins - Linebacker - Tulsa
Reasoning: The linebacking core in New Orleans is nothing amazing in all honesty, and as an aging team, the need for a young talent to come in and take over in the defense would be a great way to hand the torch over to the next generation of Saints football. Collins is arguably the best linebacker in the class, but the fact that he played out in Tulsa really hurt his stock. If he is as good as the metrics suggest, and it isn’t all because he played in a worse conference, Collins could be the steal of the draft to New Orleans.
29. Green Bay Packers
Needs: CB, WR, DL, S, TE
Pick: Rashod Bateman - Wide Receiver - Minnesota
Reasoning: Aaron Rodgers needs help. Davante Adams is an amazing wide receiver, arguably the best in the NFL. But if everyone knows where the ball is going, and no one else on the team is skilled enough to even potentially step up, is it even worth having that insane star? Bateman would be an amazing second fiddle or slot guy in this offense, with his speed and ability. The Minnesota product also would only have to move one state over, and get to catch passes from one of the best of all time. This pick seems like everyone benefits from.
30. Buffalo Bills
Needs: DL, LB, RB, OL, CB
Pick: Najee Harris - Running Back - Alabama
Reasoning: A running back? In the first round? As the value for running backs keeps on falling off of a cliff, I still feel there are teams that still see the value they hold. The Bills are one of those teams. With arguably the worst ground attack in the NFL last season, the Bills need a star back to help take pressure off of Josh Allen if they hope to have any chance to dethrone King Patrick II. Harris is an absolute animal and his insane physical size would help add another dimension to one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL.
31. Kansas City Chiefs
Needs: OL, DL, WR, LB, CB
Pick: Alijah Vera-Tucker - Offensive Guard - USC
Reasoning: Protecting the king is always the way to go for anyone in any situation. This especially applies in football when you have arguably the most transcendent talent the league has seen in years. Vera-Tucker is a good, strong guard option to protect the interior of the Chiefs offensive line. After letting a lot of their line walk, adding the boy from USC allows them to keep the line from resembling swiss cheese at a rat’s nest. KC need to keep their deathgrip on the AFC, and have no plans on letting go if they can make sure they give Patrick Mahomes all of the time in the world.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Needs: OL, RB, DL, LB, WR
Pick: Sam Cosmi - Offensive Tackle - Texas
Reasoning: Tom Brady is old. Tom Brady doesn’t have it anymore. Tom Brady is this, Tom Brady is that, blah blah blah. What Tampa needs to do is not worry about how much longer Brady keeps on going, especially since he just signed a long extension and will most likely play through its entirety. What they need to do is focus on protecting him. The team has good options in the backfield, albeit could be better, and have amazing weapons on offense. On defense, most of their guys are returning but on short deals. A rookie could help extend the defensive longevity. But if you want to make sure an injury doesn’t leave you with a QB problem, go get an offensive lineman. Cosmi has been consistently stellar at Texas during his college career, and bringing him to Tampa Bay would be a move that can keep this championship window longer than any NFL fan would want it to be.