This article is part of our NFL Draft series.
Draft week is finally upon us and it couldn't get here fast enough. Leaks and rumors about who's going where are pouring in seemingly by the hour, with the 49ers decision at No.3 overall sitting firmly the center of the draft universe. This mock is based on the information that was available as of Monday evening, so there will likely be a leak that rocks the entire thing by Tuesday morning. Either way, this is how I could see things shaking out Thursday night and there will be a second mock from me closer to the start of the draft.
1.1) Jacksonville Jaguars
The Pick: Trevor Lawrence, Quarterback, Clemson
Lawrence has been the future No.1 pick of this draft since he stepped on the field for the first time at Clemson in 2018. The only question was who would end up winning the Tank for Trevor Sweepstakes. Nice job, Jets.
1.2) New York Jets
The Pick: Zach Wilson, Quarterback, BYU
I'll never understand why Wilson to the Jets has been predestined since January or February. But it's happening. Nice job, Jets.
1.3) San Francisco 49ers
The Pick: Trey Lance, Quarterback, North Dakota State
While I'm caving to the media narrative when it comes to Wilson to the Jets and just accepting it, I can't do the same when it comes to Mac Jones to San Francisco. There's just no way a team can give up that much draft capital for such an average prospect. Jones can be fine. But aspirations should be greater after the 49ers aggressively traded up to No. 3 overall. Going with Jones would be looked upon in much the same light as the journey that led to Chicago taking Mitchell Trubisky before both Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in 2017.
This Tweet has made me change my pick from Justin Fields to Lance, but either way, I just can't believe it's Jones in this slot. Maybe it's just wishful thinking.
1.4) Atlanta Falcons
The Pick: Kyle Pitts, Tight End, Florida
I know, I know. Atlanta traded for Hayden Hurst last March. Tight end isn't a "premium position." The Falcons have bigger needs. This is all true. But should that preclude them from taking a unicorn of a prospect in Pitts? Imagine a loadout with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley on the outside with Pitts and Hurst stressing the seams. If the Falcons are all-in on Matt Ryan for this year, they might as well try to maximize the weapons around him.
All told, this pick could go so many different ways. Atlanta could trade back (Denver is an obvious suspect for that), go with a developmental quarterback (Fields makes sense in this scenario), or do the boring thing and take Penei Sewell. But adding Pitts to a system designed by Arthur Smith would make this offense difficult to defend at every level. Alright, I'm getting into NFL Fanfic territory, so let's move onto the next pick.
1.5) Cincinnati Bengals
The Pick: Penei Sewell, Tackle, Oregon
The Bengals inked 32-year-old Riley Reiff to bolster the left side of their line this offseason. That's not a long-term solution to fixing the protection problems that contributed to Joe Burrow's rookie season being cut short.
The draft spin cycle is almost complete for Sewell. He's gone from being considered a lock Top Five pick to people questioning whether he should even be the first tackle taken in the draft. And while we were probably hasty to anoint him as the next great left tackle, he's still the best in this class. Sewell would be a worthwhile investment for the Bengals in the long run, even if he needs time to develop as a rookie.
1.6) Miami Dolphins
The Pick: Ja'Marr Chase, Wide Receiver, LSU
Will Fuller's on a one-year, prove-it deal and if he proves it, he's probably pricing himself out of Miami. There also isn't a ton of proven depth behind the Fuller-DeVante Parker tandem in the wake of Preston Williams' second season-ending injury in as many years. Chase gives Tua Tagovailoa another alpha receiver who can make plays at all levels of the field. No one else makes as much sense as Chase here, especially if the Dolphins want to go receiver.
1.7) Detroit Lions
The Pick: Jaylen Waddle, Wide Receiver, Alabama
The Lions have a lot of needs, but quarterback isn't the most pressing among them. Meanwhile receiver or cornerback desperately need to be addressed. The team could go with a corner in the Top 10 for the second year in a row and tab either Jaycee Horn or Patrick Surtain, but I'll lean wideout. The Lions picking a receiver this high has to go well, right?
1.8) Carolina Panthers
The Pick: Jaycee Horn, Cornerback, South Carolina
Horn is the best corner in this class, backing up his technique and natural coverage ability with tremendous athleticism for the position. Carolina needs to bolster its secondary, while the team's situation at offensive tackle can likely wait another year before it needs a first-round level investment.
1.9) Denver Broncos
The Pick: Justin Fields, Quarterback, Ohio State
Denver can't go into 2021 with Drew Lock unchallenged as the starter at QB. Ideally, Fields would be able to develop behind a veteran to begin with. If he lands in Denver, however, I'd like his chances of beating out Lock before too long.
1.10) Dallas Cowboys
The Pick: Patrick Surtain II, Cornerback, Alabama
If your mock doesn't have Surtain to the Cowboys, is it really a mock?
1.11) New York Giants
The Pick: Rashawn Slater, Offensive Tackle, Northwestern
The Andrew Thomas experiment isn't off to a great start. Adding Slater would be a strong move to continue bolstering the line and his measurements suggest that he could make the transition to guard if need be. The Giants need to improve the line so that Saquon Barkley has somewhere to run and Daniel Jones has time to...do whatever it is that he does.
1.12) New England Patriots (via trade)
Eagles Receive: No. 15, No. 46 in 2021
Patriots Receive: No. 12, No. 84
The Pick: Mac Jones, Quarterback, Alabama
The Patriots don't have a long-term answer at quarterback and Jones is the last of the first-round worthy signal callers on the board in this scenario. The Chargers and Vikings aren't threats to take a QB here but the Eagles could be, depending on how Nick Sirianni views Jones' rock-paper-scissors strategy.
With Cam Newton still in the mix, Jones would be able to sit this year and learn the offense before taking over in New England in 2022.
1.13) Los Angeles Chargers
The Pick: Christian Darrisaw, Tackle, Virginia Tech
The fantasy football part of my brain would love to see the Chargers add a receiver in this spot but in reality, the team needs to bolster the left side of the line and Darrisaw is the best tackle still on the board. Darrisaw doesn't have the prototypical left tackle build but everything else about his game checks out. The First-Team All-ACC performer from 2020 would be an immediate improvement over Trey Pipkins. The Chargers can go after a receiver in the second round.
1.14) Minnesota Vikings
The Pick: Alijah Vera-Tucker, Tackle/Guard, USC
Vera-Tucker has experience at both tackle and guard, though he projects best at guard at the next level. Minnesota's dismal defense a year ago might lead one to think the Vikings target that side of the ball, but there are opt-outs from 2020 coming back plus some free agent acquisitions that should help shore things up on that end. Grabbing the top interior offensive lineman would be a nice result.
1.15) Philadelphia Eagles
The Pick: DeVonta Smith, Wide Receiver, Alabama
This would make it two years in a row of the Eagles grabbing a receiver in the first round. I don't think Jalen Reagor is a lost cause by any means. Quite the contrary. But Philadelphia can't go into 2021 with some mix of Greg Ward, Travis Fulgham and John Hightower in line to play a high percentage of the snaps. This is even admitting that the team will use its tight ends in the passing game more than most. There needs to be a difference-maker opposite Reagor and Smith can be that guy.
This pick also underlines my expectation that Smith will slide well outside of the Top 10.
1.16) Arizona Cardinals
The Pick: Greg Newsome, Cornerback, Northwestern
Patrick Peterson's departure leaves a hole at corner, and Malcolm Butler shouldn't be viewed as a long-term fix. Newsome is the best corner remaining on the board that can immediately contribute. Pass defense in the NFC West is becoming more and more critical with Russell Wilson and now Matthew Stafford on the Cardinals' schedule four times a year. Defending Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle is no picnic either, even with San Francisco seemingly being okay with mediocre options at quarterback.
1.17) Las Vegas Raiders
The Pick: Micah Parsons, Linebacker, Penn State
Parsons is a candidate to slide further than most think. Inside linebacker is turning into the running back of defense in terms of positional value (Devin White notwithstanding) and Parsons is rumored to have had some off-field issues at Penn State. Even with those things in mind, it's hard to see him hanging around much past the middle of the first. Parsons is immensely talented and athletic and has the ideal skill set of a modern inside linebacker.
I could be wrong on the fit here, as this report leaked out of Vegas last week.
Still, Parsons is the best player on the board and would be a colossal improvement over Nick Kwiatkowski in the middle of the Raiders defense.
1.18) Miami Dolphins
The Pick: Christian Barmore, Defensive Lineman, Alabama
Edge and running back should be in consideration here as well, but this is too high to take a running back and this year's edge crop is underwhelming. Barmore, who played several different techniques in Alabama's 3-4 scheme, would be a strong addition to the middle of Miami's defensive line. The trio of Christian Wilkins, Raekwon Davis and Barmore would give Miami a young and athletic front and the Zach Sieler contract extension shouldn't preclude the 'Phins from continuing to get stronger in that area. Barmore is the best interior defensive lineman in this class.
1.19) Washington Football Team
The Pick: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Linebacker, Notre Dame
This is one of my favorite fits from this exercise. Owusu-Koramoah is on the smaller side (6-1, 224) for a linebacker but he makes up for it with tremendous athleticism (4.15 shuttle, 124-inch broad jump) and instincts. He racked up 24.5 tackles for loss in his final two seasons at Notre Dame and had eight passes defensed in that span. Owusu-Koramoah has the versatility to help out against the run or drop back in coverage and would give Washington another stellar athlete in its front seven.
1.20) Chicago Bears
The Pick: Rashod Bateman, Wide Receiver, Minnesota
This was a tough pick to project. Chicago obviously loses out on the quarterback sweepstakes if the board shakes out this way, so addressing receiver would make sense. The Anthony Miller experiment doesn't seem to be panning out and while Darnell Mooney is on a great trajectory opposite Allen Robinson, adding another pass-catcher would give Andy Dalton some much-needed help.
1.21) Indianapolis Colts
The Pick: Teven Jenkins, Offensive Tackle, Oklahoma State
Anthony Castonzo's retirement makes tackle an obvious need. Sam Tevi was brought in on a cheap one-year deal that doesn't preclude Indianapolis from finding its left tackle of the future. Jenkins' calling card is his physicality but he has length and athleticism in his profile as well. Having Jenkins and Quentin Nelson on the left side of that line would be a thing of beauty.
1.22) Tennessee Titans
The Pick: Caleb Farley, Cornerback, Virginia Tech
Farley's back surgery will lead to a draft-day fall that should end shortly after the 20th pick. If not for the medical red flag, Farley could have been viewed as the top corner prospect in this class thanks to his blend of frame, versatility and impressive track record at Virginia Tech. A converted receiver, Farley recorded six picks and 25 passes defensed in just two seasons playing corner for the Hokies before opting out of the 2020 season. This would be a steal for Tennessee if he returns to his pre-injury form.
1.23) Baltimore Ravens (via trade)
Baltimore Receives: 1.23, 2.2 (34th overall)
New York Receives: 1.27, 1.31, 2022 3rd Rounder
The Pick: Elijah Moore, Wide Receiver, Mississippi
Baltimore has two late first-round picks to play around with and I doubt that they stand pat at both 27 and 31. Whether this ends up being the move or not, I stand by the idea of Baltimore making a move Thursday night. Tackle is obviously a need now in light of the Orlando Brown trade, but we're fresh out of viable first-round tackles in this scenario. That leaves receiver as the biggest need and Moore would fit like a glove.
Sammy Watkins should overtake Miles Boykin for snaps outside opposite Marquise Brown. The Ravens may still have bigger plans for 2020 third-rounder Devin Duvernay as the replacement for Willie Snead in the slot, but Moore is ready to contribute immediately in his own right. He was immensely productive at Mississippi and tested extremely well at his pro day. Despite the Ravens' poor track record in evaluating receiving talent through the draft, Moore would be a good bet to reverse that trend and give Lamar Jackson a viable option out wide.
1.24) Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pick: Najee Harris, Running Back, Alabama
The resounding chorus in the Draft Twittersphere of late has been that a running back doesn't necessarily fix a run game. I get it. Great running backs can look pedestrian behind bad offensive lines (see: Saquon Barkley). The Steelers offensive line was in shambles by the end of last season and with Alexander Villanueva a free agent, there may be more questions than answers in that unit right now. If you squint hard enough, North Dakota State left tackle Dillon Radunz might make sense here. But Harris works too. He has a complete three-down skillset and would instantly be the best running back on the roster. The Benny Snell-Anthony McFarland duo is not viable.
1.25) Jacksonville Jaguars
The Pick: Trevon Moehrig, Safety, TCU
The first safety off the board, Moehring would slot in nicely alongside Rayshawn Jenkins in Jacksonville's defensive backfield. It's too early for the Jaguars to address tight end given this year's crop at that position and a tackle here might be a reach. Moehring offers a nice blend of being one of the best players available while filling a need.
1.26) Cleveland Browns
The Pick: Jamin Davis, Linebacker, Kentucky
A riser throughout the draft process, Davis has a very real chance of coming off the board in the first round. At 6-3 and 234 pounds with 4.47-speed and an 11-foot broad jump, Davis is an interesting case in that he's light for an inside linebacker but his athleticism and production at Kentucky (102 tackles, three picks in 2020) might override those size concerns. Cleveland doesn't have many holes on its roster -- what a world! -- but inside linebacker could use some help. If the Browns stand pat at 26, Davis could very well be the pick.
1.27) New York Jets via trade
The Pick: Travis Etienne, Running Back, Clemson
The Jets get to trade back and still get the best running back in the draft. Not bad. Maybe they would wait until 31 in this particular scenario, and Etienne could fall that far considering the teams picking 28-30. Of course, the Bills could give some reason for pause regarding that approach.
The Jets may have the worst backfield situation in the league and adding Etienne would instantly give them a potential Top 15 running back in the league. Running back needs to be addressed with one of the team's first two picks after the expected Zach Wilson selection.
1.28) New Orleans Saints
The Pick: Terrace Marshall, Wide Receiver, LSU
Michael Thomas can't be the only receiving threat in a healthy passing game and Drew Brees' retirement should mean that the Saints are going to be less reliant on low aDOT routes to carry that part of the offense. The team needs a downfield presence and that's where Marshall comes in. The 6-3, 200-pounder runs a 4.40 and put down strong jumps at LSU's Pro Day. He also worked outside and in the slot and was effective in both roles, piling up 94 catches for 1,402 yards and 23 touchdowns on 137 targets over his last two seasons at LSU. The athleticism coupled with his production at LSU makes Marshall a first-round prospect who would fill a glaring need for the Saints.
Fun Fact: Marshall would be the first LSU receiver taken by the Saints since Devery Henderson in 2004.
1.29) Green Bay Packers
The Pick: Zaven Collins, Linebacker, Tulsa
Corner is also very much in play but linebacker is an equally big need and Collins would be a steal at this stage. It's a little difficult to know what to make of his recent weight gain (he's up to 270) -- will it impact his agility, which was already borderline?
The overall profile still makes Collins a really interesting player; his production was strong in each of his three seasons and he showed ability in coverage with six pass breakups and four picks in 2020. He can also play downhill against the run (106 tackles in 2019).
1.30) Buffalo Bills
The Pick: Eric Stokes, Cornerback, Georgia
Levi Wallace is undersized and slow. Stokes is neither of those things. The 6-1, 194-pounder runs a 4.29 40 and was sticky in coverage during his time at Georgia. He can play outside or in the slot and would give Buffalo a legit corner opposite Tre'Davious White.
1.31) New York Jets via trade
The Pick: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
Finally, an edge rusher. Kwity Paye is another option, but Ojulari gets the nod here. Ojulari makes up for his lack of ideal height with length (34.5-in. arms, 82.5-in wingspan), athleticism and refined pass-rush skills. He racked up 8.5 sacks in 10 games as a redshirt sophomore in 2020 and would provide a much-needed spark to New York's lifeless pass rush.
1.32) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Pick: Levi Onwuzurike, Defensive Line, Washington
Tampa Bay can get creative with this pick as its depth chart on both sides of the ball is stacked and ready to make a run at defending its title. That said, adding some youth along the defensive line might be on the wishlist with Ndamukong Suh entering his age-34 season and playing on a one-year contract.
Onwuzurike may be flying under the radar after opting out last season, but he was a game-wrecker during his time at Washington. He can be worked into the rotation without being forced into an every-down role before he's ready. Tampa Bay would be a great landing spot for Onwuzurike if the team stays put at 32. That might be up for some debate, though.