This article is part of our NFL Draft series.
This first-round mock might be a bit clunky since I don't really know how to evaluate linemen or defenders until after combine athletic testing, but this was my best shot in the meantime anyway. This mock features two trades.
-Arizona trades No. 16 and No. 79 to Chargers for No. 13 and 2021 fifth-round pick
- Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
This pick is settled. Anyone who says otherwise is a paid liar or someone who falls victim to the Wallet Inspector multiple times annually.
- New York Jets – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
I still think Fields is basically Marcus Mariota but if Mike LaFleur turns out to be any good then that sort of quarterback might succeed here.
- Houston Texans (from HOU via MIA) – Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
The Texans have no real hope as long as Baby Billy Easterby has his claws in Cal McNair's spine but going into 2021 with Tagovailoa and Chase would have to be pretty close to their best-case outcome.
- Atlanta Falcons – Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
The people telling you Wilson is better than or even close to Lawrence are confused but if Fields is off the board then Wilson might be a reasonable pick for the Falcons, who need a better athlete at QB than Matt Ryan if Arthur Smith is to run an offense resembling the one he did in Tennessee.
- Cincinnati Bengals - Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
- Philadelphia Eagles – Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
It'd be reasonable for the Eagles to take Trey Lance here but their outside cornerback personnel is garbage and with Farley they have a CB1 candidate once they can move on from Darius Slay's contract. If Philadelphia wants to give Jalen Hurts a go this year then they need to revise the team model away from shootouts, and Farley stacks up well in terms of the Best Player Available board.
- Detroit Lions – Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
If Barmore is the top defensive tackle in the draft then he probably has a very good chance of going in the top 10. If not him then I'd assume Detroit takes DeVonta Smith in this scenario.
- Carolina Panthers – Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
The Panthers would be lucky if Lance fell this far, and if he does then he'd be an easy selection for them.
- Denver Broncos – Kwity Paye, DE/OLB, Michigan
The Broncos don't have much explosiveness in their front seven. Paye is nothing if not explosive, and Vic Fangio can harness defensive talent as well as anyone.
- Dallas Cowboys – Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami (FL)
Dallas needs to figure out what they're doing with Tyron Smith at tackle, but if they don't look OT here then Rousseau would make sense as a replacement for Aldon Smith/Everson Griffen. He looks a lot like former Dallas DE Greg Ellis.
- New York Giants – DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
- San Francisco 49ers – Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Considering Jimmy Garoppolo has been consistently awful in San Francisco and the 49ers were still competitive, I actually think it'd be questionable of the 49ers to pass on Jones and what would be a comparatively cheap contract considering the low bar he'd need to reach to constitute an upgrade. Maybe this is stupid and Jones is another A.J. McCarron, but McCarron never put up numbers especially close to what Jones did.
- Arizona Cardinals (from LAC) – Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
As much as I can't stand Kliff Kingsbury's coaching I would have to admit that failure GM Steve Keim picked Andy Isabella and Hakeem Butler without Kingsbury's input. It's pretty obvious that Kingsbury could just use Isabella like Scotty Miller to significant effect, but Kingsbury's vision is limited and in his myopic view a small receiver like Isabella must play in the slot, and a slot receiver must run short routes. Isabella is good at deep routes and bad at shallow inside routes, so the results were predictable. Within this framework Dan Arnold proved the team's most effective slot receiver down the stretch, while Isabella became a healthy scratch. That Arnold was ever in the slot was only possible because Christian Kirk was miscast outside, but we could go all day about Kingsbury's bad ideas if I don't cut myself off here. The point is that Pitts is an actually good version of Arnold, and in that role Pitts could have a transformational effect on the Cardinals offense. They should still fire Kingsbury and Keim either way, of course.
- Minnesota Vikings – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Adam Thielen might remain very good but his durability has shown discouraging signs the last two years, and his contract gets burdensome in upcoming years.
- New England Patriots – Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
- Los Angeles Chargers (from ARI) – Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
I don't really scout tackles but at a glance Mayfield is intriguing for his build (6-5, 320) for his age (21 in May), and he's played well against some good defenders the last two years. Maybe Mayfield is only a right tackle, but he might prove comparable to Dion Dawkins, who has worked well with Josh Allen at left tackle.
- Las Vegas Raiders - Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Drafting Owusu-Koramoah would be a seeming admission that the Cory Littleton signing of 2020 was ill-advised, but that's already clear for the most part. The truth is the Raiders aren't in a good position whatever way they go – they're light on talent yet somewhat paradoxically low on actionable need, because they're too cluttered with idle assets. I would project the Raiders to take Pat Surtain here but I think Mike Mayock might be too proud to admit his Damon Arnette pick was stupid.
- Miami Dolphins – Alijah Vera-Tucker, G, USC
The Dolphins need to improve their interior offensive line, and Vera-Tucker would be a subtle source of continuity for challenged but talented 2020 first-round pick Austin Jackson, who played left tackle for USC while Vera-Tucker played left guard in 2019.
- Washington Snyders - Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
Most people are projecting Darrisaw to go sooner than Mayfield, but Washington probably needs to take OL of some sort, whatever the options.
- Chicago Bears – Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
Matt Nagy got his job largely because of his work with Tyreek Hill, and you could forgive Nagy for hoping the small but explosive Moore might present a similar dynamic for Chicago.
- Indianapolis Colts – Patrick Surtain, CB, Alabama
An ostensible contender like the Colts should probably look to free agency for left tackle help rather than the draft, because rookies tend to have growing pains on the line. If they do get Anthony Castonzo's replacement in free agency then this pick is more free to go the BPA route. Surtain is projected to go earlier than this, so he would probably qualify as such. Someone could argue that using a top corner talent like Surtain in a zone-heavy scheme like this would be like hiring a master chef to turn on a toaster, but the Colts might want to consider the benefits of truly investing in the position after Xavier Rhodes showed such strong results in 2020.
- Tennessee Titans - Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson
Maybe this is a dumb projection – I haven't seen people talk up Carman anywhere near this high – but he was Trevor Lawrence's left tackle and he's massive for a guy who just turned 21. Listed at 6-5, 345, Carman could be what the Titans hoped Isaiah Wilson would be at right tackle.
- New York Jets (from SEA) – Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
- Pittsburgh Steelers – Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
Jenkins has one of the bigger builds among this class of tackles and he played well at Oklahoma State. Pittsburgh might need to replace Alejandro Villanueva.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (from LAR) - Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
I don't know much about the guy, but Daniel Jeremiah has Moehrig ranked as his No. 16 player in the draft, so I probably shouldn't have him slide too much further than this. Jacksonville's safety personnel looks pretty brutal.
- Cleveland Browns - Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami (FL)
Cleveland might be able to affordably address the defensive end position in free agency, but if not then Phillips might be a good immediate candidate for 700 snaps or more.
- Baltimore Ravens – Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
He's not exactly another DeMarcus Ware case, but Collins is listed at 6-4, 260 and reportedly might be one of the best athletic testers among the defenders in this class, so some 3-4 team like Baltimore might want to look into unleashing those tools as an edge rusher. Don't make the same mistake Buffalo did with Tremaine Edmunds!
- New Orleans Saints – Terrace Marshall, WR, LSU
Maybe comparable to receivers like DJ Chark and Denzel Mims, Marshall would be a good value generally at this spot but especially would be a useful downfield target to add if they're going ahead with Jameis Winston at quarterback.
- Green Bay Packers – Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
Kevin King needs to hit the bench, but his replacement would ideally be someone over 6-foot to keep Green Bay from getting too small on the boundary. Stokes has more height than the next couple cornerbacks listed here, so that's the main tiebreaker of the logic.
- Buffalo Bills – Elijah Molden, CB, Washington
Son of 1996 first-round pick Alex Molden, Elijah is often described as a nickel corner but (A) I'm not convinced that's the case, and it's certainly not the case the way it was for someone like Amik Robertson last year, and (B) the Bills need a slot corner upgrade over Taron Johnson, anyway. The Bills just need to get faster at corner generally.
- Kansas City Chiefs – Asante Samuel, CB, Florida State
If anyone might confuse Samuel for his father then I'm kind of skeptical he actually lasts this long, but if he does then more than most Andy Reid would be able to appreciate the similarities.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Azeez Ojulari, (3-4) OLB, Georgia
Most people rank Ojulari higher than this but if he's only around 6-3, 240 then he will need to test at a high level to project safely even as a 3-4 outside linebacker, while edge snaps in a four-man front aren't a realistic option for him outside of nickel formations. He would in any case be a good long-term replacement candidate for Jason Pierre-Paul.