Here we go then, the draft is now just hours away.
Hours of film work, thousands of tweets, loads of articles and several podcasts, all combing over and and discussing many, many points of interest over the last college football and draft seasons, have boiled down to this.
I hope you have your time off booked for Friday and the food and drink in the fridge and you’re all set for what will be the most unique of drafts, maybe ever.
For me and many other draft nerds it’s the end of a cycle and the event where we finally get the answers that we’ve been waiting for.
I hope you’re looking forward to it as much as I am.
With that, let me present my final mock draft of the year. Enjoy.
- Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
I wish I could bring myself to do something a little more creative here but I just can’t. The writing has been on the wall for months, no matter how much the media have tried to create a story that isn’t there.
- Washington Redskins – Chase Young, Edge, Ohio State
Another team that the media tried creating a story about because the writing has been on the wall for months. The Redskins just take the best player available and enjoy him for the next 10 plus years, no need to get cute.
- Detroit Lions – Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
It would have been ideal for Matt Patricia to pair Slay with Jeffrey Okudah but Slay had been creeping towards the exit door for over 12 months if we’re all honest. So Okudah ends up being the replacement instead of the partner but Detroit isn’t in a bad spot – they replaced a CB1 with a cheaper and younger alternative.
Okudah’s combine workout with regards to his footwork, in particular, was teaching tape for any young DB’s out there. He’s been college football’s most refined and dominant corner for the past year and is NFL ready from day 1.
- New York Giants – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
It’s often the done thing to dunk on Dave Gettlemann and whilst drafting an offensive tackle doesn’t get the blood pumping, nor does seeing the QB you just drafted, to replace a franchise legend, on his backside a lot of the time.
The Giants have to protect Daniel Jones and drafting one of the top tackle prospects is actually pretty sensible, no matter what you think of the GM.
Giant’s fans may not like this move, especially with Isaiah Simmons sitting there and waiting to be picked but it isn’t a bad move at all.
Wirfs is a potential All-Pro tackle with unbelievable ability to move people in the running game, which not only helps Jones but Saquon Barkley too.
If they’re going to draft a running back second overall… The Giants might as well maximise him.
- Miami Dolphins – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
I know a lot of people are still expecting some kind of trade up from the Dolphins, most likely with the Lions, however, I really question whether Miami needs to at this point now that Darius Slay is an Eagle and the Lions need Jeffrey Okudah in the worst way.
Firstly, I would like to point out that if Miami has been angling (tanking) for Tua for over 12 months and they don’t come away with the former Alabama passer, it’ll be one of the most egregious wastes of draft capital that we’ve ever seen. However, if Miami holds their nerve I think they can keep their picks and let Tua fall right into their laps.
I don’t buy the interest in Tua that the media has tried to drum up from Washington – Arizona dumping Josh Rosen after one year is an outlier with a particular set of circumstances, not a rule.
In terms of a trade up: Detroit isn’t taking Tagovailoa at 3 and Dave Gettleman never trades back, so I would be SHOCKED if he did now.
Which leaves us with the Chargers… Tom Telesco has never made a big move up in the draft and is generally a stoic and conservative GM. Miami can also blow any offer out of the water, should Telesco move up so would the Chargers risk making a move, only to have Miami move up above them? I don’t think so.
Besides, if you don’t think Miami has called all 4 teams above them and told those teams they’ll beat any serious offer that comes their way from another team, then you’re out of your mind.
No one can win a bidding war against Miami, so why bother?
- Los Angeles Chargers – Isaiah Simmons, Defense, Clemson
I have said a couple of times on recent podcasts that I really think that the Chargers are edging towards picking the best player available at number 6 and then looking at a QB later on.
Anthony Lynn loves Tyrod Taylor and seems to really believe in him and his skill set, so I think he’s going to get a fair crack at the starting job next season, without having a top 10 QB breathing down his neck, similar to what he had in Cleveland.
This of course, allows the Chargers to draft Isaiah Simmons and create a defense that is, on paper at least, absolutely out of this world.
I’ve been joking that this defense could hold opponents to 10 points per game… Or was I joking?
- Cleveland Browns – Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
Trade – Carolina receive picks 10, 74 & 115
Cleveland receive pick 7
The Browns spring a trade here to move ahead of Arizona in the queue for these incredible offensive tackle prospects. New GM, Andrew Berry has been talking about the possibility of moving up or down but says that, “best player available” will be their “driver”.
Carolina is an easy trade candidate considering they’re beginning a rebuild with Matt Rhule and happily accept a generous trade package from the Browns.
Becton gets the nod over Wills and Thomas due to starting left tackle experience and simply because they don’t make them like Mekhi Becton very often – a mountain of a man with dancing feet.
- Arizona Cardinals – Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
He becomes the third tackle off the board but I personally feel that Jedrick Wills is the best tackle prospect in the draft. He’s maybe even the best tackle prospect I’ve evaluated since I began doing this… maybe. I am absolutely in love with how rounded he is in pass protection and how he loves to bury any defensive lineman that is unfortunate enough to take him on.
I know that I mentioned Becton being selected above Wills for Cleveland due to Becton having left tackle experience, but I don’t have any qualms about Wills playing on either side of the offensive line. DJ Humphries signing a new contract probably means Wills starts life on the right side anyway but he could easily switch later in his career if required.
This relegates Marcus Gilbert to swing tackle duty, which will suit him since he’s 32 and has missed a lot of time over the past two seasons.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – C.J Henderson, CB, Florida
Just a short time ago, it felt like the Jaguars had the best corner tandem in football in AJ Bouye and Jalen Ramsey…
Both of those guys now reside out west with Ramsey in L.A. with the Rams and Bouye a recent trade acquisition for the Broncos, which leaves the Jags starting corners as DJ Hayden and Tre Herndon…
So, yeah, the position needs some serious investment. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Jacksonville double down on corners in the draft.
Henderson isn’t a player I’m personally super high on, but Jacksonville will like taking a local product and I believe the NFL will be higher on him than I am. His athletic abilities were on show in Indianapolis a couple of weekends ago too and that is what he will lean on at the next level.
- Carolina Panthers – Derrick Brown, IDL, Auburn
This trade back really worked well for Carolina as they net Derrick Brown, a player they would have loved to have taken at #7, and now they have another couple of swings of the bat later down the line, too.
Brown has been a game wrecker at multiple spots on the defensive line this year for Auburn and I’d expect him to be used in multiple spots by new Panthers DC, Phil Snow, as he looks to exploit weaknesses in the offensive line and accentuate Brown’s penetrative traits and athleticism (don’t let Brown’s combine fool you, he’s a monster off the snap on tape).
I will be looking forward to how Snow uses Brown should this happen in the real draft too, because no disrespect to Baylor and the guys who played on their D line, Brown is on another level in comparison.
Note: Carolina needs to freshen up the defensive line and I could imagine that they will double dip this position later on – I would imagine that Rhule and Snow would love to bring in James Lynch, the defensive lineman from Baylor, later in the draft on early day 3, potentially even with pick 113, their pick in the early part of round 4.
- New York Jets – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
The Jets’ situation on offense kind of reminds me of what division rivals Buffalo had on their hands around 12 months ago. They have a promising young quarterback who needs more protection and some guys to throw the ball to, and I feel like the Jets went about free agency in a similar way to what the Bills did – bring in a bundle of cheap, middling free agents, on short contracts and see what turns out to be your best combination on the line and also who Darnold builds good chemistry with. The Bills added Cody Ford out of Oklahoma last year to add some potential star power and some youth to their rag-tag bunch of hog-mollies.
Andrew Thomas fits the mould here and gives New York what could be a franchise left tackle for years to come and hopefully keeps the ghosts away from Darnold’s blindside.
- Las Vegas Raiders – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Last offseason, the Raiders put all their eggs in one basket
case at wide receiver and it kind of derailed Jon Gruden’s offensive masterplan before it got started. Tyrell Williams is fine, in fact, he’s good, but simply isn’t a WR1 in the NFL and should be used accordingly. Again, Hunter Renfrow is going to be a really nice slot receiver for them for a while, but it’s going to scare a defense like an Antonio Brown would. Las Vegas would also be mindful to guard against Darren Waller regressing, at least somewhat.
With the talent at wide receiver that is available, the now Vegas Raiders get a chance to right that wrong, by selecting the best wide receiver in the draft class.
- Philadelphia Eagles – Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Trade – San Francisco receive picks 21 & 53
Philadelphia receive pick 13
Big trade alert! Howie Roseman is never afraid to make a move and this draft gets off to a flying start for Philadelphia.
DeSean Jackson is out, Alshon Jeffrey is oft-injured and unfortunately, JJ Arcega-Whiteside… well, didn’t have the impact that some people expected after ranking him as WR5 last year… So the Eagles need to make a move and bring in someone who will make an impact.
Ruggs is a flier but not only a flier who catches deep balls, he’s got fantastic hands and he thrives in the short game where we can create for himself.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Javon Kinlaw, IDL, South Carolina
This is one pick that I feel just makes a lot of sense. Beau Allen has gone even with the resigning of Ndamukong Suh, the defensive line needs retooling in Tampa and I think they’d like to keep adding to this unit, in a similar vein to San Francisco over the past few years.
Kinlaw brings a lot of juice to the defensive front and alongside Vita Vea and Shaq Barrett he could form a young trio who can all get after the QB.
I also feel the Bucs are now going to try to put as much talent around Tom Brady as possible – The modus operandi for both Brady and Head Coach, Bruce Arians will be to win a championship and then retire simultaneously.
This pick and generally boosting the defense fits that plan nicely.
- Denver Broncos – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
The Broncos offense may just be on the precipice of being really quite good. Drew Lock showed some flashes, Gordon and Lindsay are solid in the backfield and Courtland Sutton took big strides last year.
It remains to be seen what Daesean Hamilton and Noah Fant will become but they have both shown some promise at the very least. Jerry Jeudy can come in and form another part of the offense and potentially take Denver to another level. Jeudy would be a matchup nightmare both inside and outside with his precision route running and slippery nature after the catch.
- Atlanta Falcons – K’Lavon Chaisson, Edge, LSU
Atlanta are absolutely crying out for an edge defender. Vic Beasley has flamed out and will be looking for a fresh start in Tennessee, Adrian Clayborn is in Cleveland and has never been a top shelf edge defender. Plus, the drafting of Takk McKinley hasn’t really worked out either for the Dirty Birds.
This is a move that doubles down on the pick up of Dante Fowler and gives Atlanta a pair of edges that have a very high ceiling.
Chaisson adds a good amount of athleticism to the defensive front and isn’t just an edge rusher either, he’s possibly the best run defending edge in this class and has the versatility to play standing up and with his hand in the dirt.
There’s talk of Atlanta wanting to move up, and I wouldn’t doubt that Thomas Dimitroff would want to do so for a second, I’m just not sure if they can find a dance partner without overpaying.
- Dallas Cowboys – Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
The Cowboys just had too many people who needed paying this offseason and now Byron Jones is a Dolphin. This leaves a hole in the secondary and I feel they need to address that need sooner rather than later. The ‘Boys neglected to bring in a replacement via free agency so I have them drafting Kristian Fulton, who I actually believe is being short changed in this draft cycle, by a fair bit.
I believe if it wasn’t for the fact Jeffrey Okudah is better than a lot of the corners in the NFL, and the fact that this is a deep class generally, Fulton would be getting much more recognition than he is right now, the guy is an unbelievable prospect.
- Minnesota Vikings – Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
Trade – Miami receive picks 25 & 89
Minnesota receive pick 18
The Vikings love to draft corners under Mike Zimmer.
There is also a vacancy or two on the roster at the position since they cut Xavier Rhodes last week and also have Trae Waynes, Mack Alexander and Marcus Sherels heading towards the exit door.
This leaves Mike Hughes, their first round selection from 2018 as the CB1 on the roster at the time of writing and we’re not even sure that Hughes is an outside corner at the NFL level.
So why Gladney and why trade up in a deep class?
Well Zimmer loves physical corners who can be sticky in man coverage and don’t mind laying a hit on someone. Jeff Gladney fits the bill on this score and even in a deep class, you might as well go up and get the best guys when you can.
- Las Vegas Raiders – Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
Jon Gruden continues to shop at the name brand schools. Queen strikes me as a Gruden linebacker – He’s active and very athletic, he could use some work on his tackling, which I do admit, could be an issue for a linebacker but the ceiling is very high.
Last year, Gruden brought in a leader on the back end of the defense in John Abraham and also a leader up front, in Clelin Ferrell. Free agency this year brought Nick Kwitakoski and Corey Littleton – Queen rounds out what would be an excellent linebacking group and generally a great looking defense to combat the red hot offenses in the AFC West.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Let me tell you… The Jags have issues. Sizable issues. It’s a fire sale and it’s going to be a long road back.
So how do you go about resolving this? Well, you bring in good football players and players who will contribute towards a positive culture in and around the team for years to come.
It would be ideal if these players played at premium positions but this isn’t a one year fix, it’s going to be a process.
Whilst this isn’t a great fit, given that Jacksonville already has a player of a similar ilk on the roster in Ronnie Harrison, the Jags do need safety help and I feel the fact Harrison is already on board will mean that McKinney is moved around the defense a little bit, perhaps as in big nickel packages and allowed to get after tight ends and running backs.
- San Francisco 49ers – Laviska Shenault. WR, Colorado
Trading down from 13 to 21 gives San Fran a second round pick and whilst losing the chance to draft Henry Ruggs is never a positive, the 49ers don’t lose out on drafting a dynamic offensive weapon.
A dream scenario and Shenault’s diverse skill set is paired with one of the best offensive minds in the game in Kyle Shanahan.
If this goes down, I will be watching a lot of 49ers games next season to see what the results of this marriage are. This is purely a team fit, there aren’t many other teams that will look at Shenault this early.
22. Minnesota Vikings – Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
Wide receivers are flying off the board in the 20’s!
Does Minnesota get the best one of them at 22? I think that is a distinct possibility.
Justin Jefferson showed that he’s a complete wide receiver last season at LSU – operating well out wide and out of the slot, being productive in terms of yards and also putting the ball in the paint, like most of the LSU offense, he had a career breakout year at the best possible time.
The Vikings need to come away with a corner and a wide receiver from the first round and picking Jeff Gladney and Justin Jefferson makes this a home run first round of them.
- New England Patriots – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
I actually don’t believe I’m mocking this myself, to be quite honest.
If Justin Herbert falls past the Dolphins and the Chargers, where does the slide end?
It’s a genuine question, and it’s not an indictment of Herbert as a prospect or as a QB because I think Justin Herbert is very good but where does he go in this situation?
The Raiders are the only team I can think of that are a slight possibility and I just can’t see Jon Gruden loving Herbert, plus they brought in Marcus Mariota and they have an entrenched starter in Derek Carr.
The only other possibility I could think of is New England trading up to get him but then, as this shows, would the Patriots need to do so?
Talk about landing on your feet.
- New Orleans Saints – Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
The Saints offense needs someone who can do something Michael Thomas generally doesn’t do – catch the football down the field.
Denzel Mims is a linear receiver who will not only replace Ted Ginn as the deep threat, but simultaneously open up the underneath spaces for Thomas and Alvin Kamara.
Mims is also the best blocking receiver in this class and is extremely tenacious and I can see Sean Payton loving his attitude and demeanor in this regard.
- Miami Dolphins, Josh Jones, OT, Houston
I feel like it’s been fairly well documented that the Dolphins want to come out of the first round with a QB and an offensive tackle.
I also feel that it’s become consensus now that Josh Jones is the best tackle from tier 2 of this draft class.
Mission accomplished, Miami.
- Miami Dolphins – Zack Baun, Edge/LB, Wisconsin
The fact that Zack Baun hasn’t been invited to the virtual draft makes me a little nervous of this pick and in all honesty, I’m not certain that Miami makes three first round selections – I strongly suspect that they’ll use their abundance of draft capital to move around the board freely and unload capital in trades in order to secure the players that they really want.
However, in this event, they haven’t needed to get rid of their pick and do still have a need at edge. Baun isn’t a prototypical edge defender and can drop in and play linebacker but that is exactly the kind of player that Brian Flores worked with in New England and for that reason I feel like Baun fits the mould really nicely here.
- Los Angeles Chargers – Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Trade – Seattle receive picks 37 & 71
Los Angeles receive pick 27
Seattle won’t make this pick, they barely ever make their first pick before trading back so the Chargers spot an opening and make a leap up the board in order to secure their potential quarterback of the future.
Jordan Love has the physical traits that everyone is looking for now in terms of arm talent and mobility, he also works well outside of structure which also lends itself well to the modern NFL.
Love isn’t coming off the greatest season and was actually much more impressive in 2018 when he had more offensive talent around him, so his uneven college career gives me pause when I try to fit him into the conversation as a top QB prospect.
Time would be on his side with Tyrod Taylor in situ and with Love attracting comparisons, in some circles, to Patrick Mahomes, it could be a gamble worth taking.
- Baltimore Ravens – Kenneth Murray, LB,Oklahoma
This is a hand-in-glove fit between player and ballclub here.
Kenneth Murray is a downhill, aggressive, tackling machine who is excellent as a blitzer off the edge or on delayed blitzes.
Murray has the mindset and the on field playing style that fits what the Ravens go for in the defender – No defense blitz more than the Ravens too so Murray should be in a nice situation here.
I see him as the replacement for Patrick Owuasor and filling a jack of all trades role as an outside linebacker and he will affect the game in multiple ways each week.
- Tennessee Titans – Austin Jackson, OT, USC
Each time I do a mock draft and I come to the Titans, I look around their roster and look for an area of improvement and I often come to the same conclusion – That this roster is really good and quite underrated throughout the NFL community.
The Titans don’t have many (if any) league renowned stars, you could make a case for Kevin Byard, potentially Derrick Henry and maybe Taylor Lewan but it feels like this whole roster is under appreciated.
Jon Robinson really deserves some high praise for how he’s put this team together!
One casualty of this off season is right tackle Jack Conklin, who left during free agency, so I feel this is the most obvious place to start for Tennessee.
Jackson is a little rough around the edges but he should make the starting job his over the offseason and be a nice addition to the Titans line.
- Green Bay Packers – Justin Madubuike, IDL, Texas A&M
I know the consensus here is that Green Bay will go for a wide receiver here but with 6 already gone, is there value there at 30 for a receiver like Jalen Reagor or Brandon Aiyuk?
I’m not certain.
This class of wide receivers is deep and there will be value and good players to be had later down the line – Remember, the draft is 7 rounds long.
One area where there isn’t a whole lot of depth is on the defensive line – The likes of Justin Madubuike, Ross Blacklock, Neville Gallimore and to a degree Jordan Elliott – The tier 2 interior defensive linemen are all nice prospects but after those guys the drop off is fairly sharp.
Outside of Kenny Clark, the Packers could use some talent up front. Justin Mabubuike will give them some juice and mixes that with nimble footwork and hand placement as a rusher.
These late round picks always get a bit wild and this is certainly one of those – It’s a gamble but could pay off in a big way.
- San Francisco 49ers – Cesar Ruiz, IOL, Michigan
The 49ers really aren’t too far away and after the trade back with Philadelphia, they now hold pick 53 which is where I feel they can get good value for a cornerback and fill another big need.
For now, John Lynch continues to give Kyle Shanahan what he needs on offense. Ruiz is a stout center who holds up really nicely in pass protection and is a powerful adversary for any defensive lineman in the run game.
Ruiz has the mobility to hold up nicely in Shanahan’s complex running scheme too, whether that be from the center position or from right guard, both of which he has played at Michigan.
I think Ruiz will end up at the pivot in time but due to Weston Richburg, may begin his career at right guard – Either way he makes this line better now and in 5 years time.
- Kansas City Chiefs – A.J Terrell, CB, Clemson
With the final pick of the first round the Kansas City Chiefs improve an area of their team which is one of the only areas of their roster that requires some serious investment, the cornerback position.
Terrell has slipped in the hearts and minds of a lot of fans because of the College Football National Championship game which Clemson lost to LSU in crushing fashion, with LSU running out 42-25 winners.
However. Terrell put together a great season overall and showed his prowess as a great corner prospect with his play.
Terrell is an unbelievable athlete, who possesses excellent coverage ability and has all the physical attributes and movement skills to be a CB1 for any team in the league.