by Rob Grimwood – @FFBritBaller
As we enter the final stretch of the season, we’re getting closer and closer to finding out where every team will be selecting their new crop of talent via the NFL draft at the end of April. At time of writing we are midway through the divisional round of the playoffs, so only 6 teams remain in the race to lift the Vince Lombardi trophy.
Here is my second mock draft of the season currently based upon tankathon’s final standing predictions
1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence, QB – Clemson
Previous pick: Justin Fields (QB) when they were 3rd overall in my mock 1.0
I think it’s pretty set in stone that the Clemson signal caller will be top of the shop this year. He’s arguably the best QB out of college since Andrew Luck and I think it’s a given that it’s time to move on from Minshew’s moustache mania in Duval county. It was good (well, not really) whilst it lasted.
2. New York Jets – Penei Sewell, OT – Oregon
Previous pick: Trevor Lawrence (QB) when 1st overall
It’s very tough trying to contemplate what new HC Robert Saleh will do with this draft. As a coach with a defensive background, I think his priority will be fixing the defence. However, I wonder if the Jets’ hierarchy suggest to Saleh that he can have the rest of the draft to do that, providing the two 1st round picks go on helping Darnold if he decides to stick with him. That logic makes sense to me anyway – help Sam first, then the rest of the draft is all yours to bolster the defense.
If that is the case, it has to be best offensive player available (that isn’t a QB). As tempting as it might be to take Heisman winning receiver DeVonta Smith, I think Sewell is a generational talent at tackle. Taking Sewell helps Darnold stay on his feet to find his receivers. If they take Smith, Darnold won’t be able to utilise him if he’s eating turf all the time.
3. *MOCK TRADE* Carolina Panthers via Miami Dolphins/Houston Texans – Justin Fields, QB – Ohio State
Previous pick: Caleb Farley (CB) when 12th overall
The Panthers see Miami on the clock knowing their trade phone is running off the hook since the Jets didn’t take Fields. As respectable as Teddy B’s season was this year, they know he’s not the long term solution. Bringing in an elite do-it-all QB like Fields will set the franchise up for the next decade. He’s a can’t miss talent and will fit like a glove into Carolina. He can even sit behind Teddy for a year if needs be.
4. Atlanta Falcons – Zach Wilson, QB – BYU
Previous pick: Micah Parsons (LB) when 6th overall
Matt Ryan isn’t getting any younger and this may be the best opportunity the Falcons have to draft a franchise replacement. Wilson has shot up draft boards after a stellar 2020 campaign for BYU and fits the Falcons mould very well. He’d be able to sit behind Ryan next year and learn from one of the best.
5. Cincinnati Bengals – Kyle Pitts, TE – Florida
Previous pick: Gregory Rousseau (EDGE) when 11th overall
Pitts was pound for pound a top-3 player in all of CFB in 2020. Without him, Kyle Trask and the Gators weren’t the same. Midway through the season Pitts was slated to go mid to late first round, but seeing just how good his receiving and contested catch ability is, it’s cemented him as a top-10 pick.
The Bengals need a top quality target hog to go alongside Tee Higgins for Joe Burrow to utilise in the receiving game and a replacement for A.J Green’s receptions. It could just as easily be Smith here or even to re-unite Burrow with Ja’Marr Chase from their LSU days together – but with Higgins and Boyd out wide already, I think they’d benefit more from one of the best slot receiving options in college history with blocking upside as a tight end in Kyle Pitts.
6. Philadelphia Eagles – DeVonta Smith, WR – Alabama
Previous pick: Rashod Bateman (WR) when 19th overall
The glaring need for better receiving options hasn’t changed since I wrote my mock draft 1.0. The one thing that has changed is the top-10 pick that the Eagles now own. Thanks to their demise, they’re able to upgrade their positional pick and they’re in the position now to grab the pound for pound best player in all of CFB last year. The Heisman trophy winner will be a superstar in the NFL and a much needed weapon for new starter Jalen Hurts.
7. Detroit Lions – Patrick Surtain II, CB – Alabama
Previous pick: DeVonta Smith (WR) when 13th overall
The Lions struggled in the defensive secondary this year, giving up the third most yards to QB’s and the most receiving TD’s. Last years first round pick CB Jeff Okudah only managed to play in 5 games this season, but did quite well when he did play to be fair. Pair him with the best CB in this class and 2021 could be very different in the defensive secondary for the Lions.
8. *MOCK TRADE* Miami Dolphins via Carolina Panthers – Micah Parsons, LB – Penn State
Previous pick: Penei Sewell (OT) when 4th overall
I think the Dolphins will be happy to trade the 3rd overall pick away in order to stay in the top-10 and take the best player available, plus whatever else they can get (maybe a couple of 2nd round picks too?) which makes that Tunsil trade all the sweeter. At this point, Micah Parsons is the best player available and he’s a thumping good one at that. Hands down the best linebacker in the draft and will bolster that vastly improved Miami defense.
9. Denver Broncos – Gregory Rousseau, EDGE – Miami
Previous pick: Samuel Cosmi (OT) when 14th overall
There’s a few needs in Denver, namely EDGE, CB and at Tackle; so it’s a case of take the best available in one of those positions. Step forward Rousseau. Opted out of the 2020 college season but has enough proof on tape to show he’s a top-10 talent. He’s also the beneficiary of a weaker than usual EDGE class meaning his stock will stay high. Regardless, he’s a top prospect and fills a need at Mile High
10. Dallas Cowboys – Christian Barmore, DT – Alabama
Previous pick: Patrick Surtain II (CB) when 5th overall
This is a bit of a reach as most analysts will have Barmore on the 1st round/2nd round fence but I love him. He’s awesome and he has the most potential out of all of the defensive tackles in this class, in my opinion. Jerry Jones knows that it’s the defence that let the team down last season, after all, with Dak under centre the offense was flying. Obviously this pick is designed around the idea that Dak is re-signing otherwise this pick is probably different. At least in other areas of defence the Cowboys have some talent (Lawrence, Smith, Vander Esch, Diggs) but the interior defensive line is pretty much non-existent.
The scheme fit is good for him too. He plays best as a 3-technique in a 4-3 scheme which is precisely what the Cowboys use. He’s a bit raw and will need some techniques refined, but Barmore fixes a big problem for Dem Boyz and could blossom into a league dominator.
11. New York Giants – Ja’Marr Chase, WR – LSU
Previous pick: Ja’Marr Chase when 2nd overall
With the rise of DeVonta Smith and the recency bias not seeing Chase on the field in 2020 due to opting out, I think he now falls outside of the top-10. This is music to the ears of a Giants’ fan as he is a top-5 talent. Don’t forget, Justin Jefferson was this guys WR2 at LSU in 2019. Chase is a better version of Odell Beckham. Yes, I just said that.
12. San Francisco 49ers – Wyatt Davis, IOL – Ohio State
Previous pick: Tyson Campbell (CB) when 15th overall
Davis is one of the reasons Justin Fields is a top-3 pick. Not only does Davis provide extra time for QB’s, he was also part responsible for creating the huge rushing lanes that J.K Dobbins utilised in 2019; a feat that Trey Sermon/Master Teague also managed to replicate this year. Davis is the best guard in the draft and 49ers address one of their more pressing needs – it helps Jimmy G and the full spectrum of running backs they have there in Santa Clara.
13. Los Angeles Chargers – Caleb Farley, CB – Virgina Tech
Previous pick: Alex Leatherwood (OT) when 8th overall
Leatherwood was still in play for this pick but it was the defense that let the Chargers down this year. A defense that looked solid at the start of the season yet fell short albeit thanks in part to a few key injuries. Nonetheless they need depth and better quality at corner, Farley provides that.
Farley is the second best corner in this class behind Surtain. He possesses an excellent skill set with good size, speed and athleticism. There are red flags though – he’s only had one stand out season, has battled injuries his whole college career and also sat out this season as a COVID opt-out. Talent and need prevail however.
14. Minnesota Vikings – Alex Leatherwood, OT – Alabama
Previous pick: Shaun Wade (CB) when 10th overall
This pick and the Chargers pick are pretty interchangeable considering the two teams have similar needs at corner and tackle. The Vikings o-line is gradually getting better year-to-year, and Leatherwood would be a nice finishing piece to the starting quintet.
15. New England Patriots, Dylan Moses, LB – Alabama
Previous pick: Dylan Moses (LB) when 10th overall
Belichick and the Pats haven’t picked this high in the 1st round since 2008 where they selected a linebacker who ended up going to multiple pro-bowls in Jerod Mayo. They’ll likely repeat that history if they take Moses here. A solid linebacker who was expected to be a top-10 pick this time last year before choosing to participate in one last season for the Crimson Tide after missing the 2019 campaign through injury.
16. Arizona Cardinals – Najee Harris, RB – Alabama
Previous pick: Trey Hill (C) when 22nd overall
It was a brutal end of the season for the Cards this year and one of the reasons behind that is the inability to run the ball effectively. Their rush game without Kyler Murray’s rushing stats would have them 30th in the league. There are holes on the defensive side of the ball at edge and corner, but those positions don’t offer the same talent quality at this point in the draft. Pound for pound Harris is a top-5 talent and by taking him, the Cards will have all their offensive weapons locked up for the foreseeable future. Murray, Harris, DHop and Kirk. Formidable.
17. Las Vegas Raiders – Creed Humphrey, C – Oklahoma
Previous pick: Carlos Basham (EDGE), when 17th overall
The Raiders have been mediocre all season and have barely moved out of this 17th spot since week 1. There are a few holes on both sides of the ball that need addressing but with Humphrey’s emergence as the best Centre in this years class, it fills a need on that below par offensive line. The nice thing about this kid is that he’s versatile enough to kick out to guard if needed or preferred.
18. Miami Dolphins – Jaylen Waddle, WR – Alabama
Previous pick: Jaylen Waddle (WR), when 16th overall
No change for me here. I think Waddle will still be on the board considering his draft stock didn’t move much after his season ending injury in week 5 against Tennessee. Despite the injury, he was verging on being cleared to play for the Championship final win over Ohio State; so he’ll be fit and ready for the combine (if there is one) in March. Providing he’s back to his old self, Waddle is one of the best receivers out of college in recent times and would have likely been higher than 18th had he avoided injury.
19. Washington Football Team – Trey Lance, QB – North Dakota State
Previous pick: Trey Lance (QB), when 7th overall
After NDSU didn’t have a season as all FCS games were cancelled (bar the one ‘exhibition’ in week zero), Lance has not had any real opportunities to live up to his top-10 off-season hype and I won’t be surprised if he falls further. But for now, let’s ride with Washington still taking him.
I hate this pick because I don’t think Lance warrants being a first round pick. I just struggle to see how a FCS QB can be that good yet won’t play in the FBS. Where’s his aspirations? Being a big fish in a small pond doesn’t work for me, however, if he has as much success as former Bison QB Carson Wentz has then I guess it’ll be a justified pick.
Nonetheless, it’s a gamble and Washington love to pick questionable QB’s in the first round of the draft… see the careers of Dwayne Haskins, Robert Griffin, Jason Campbell and Patrick Ramsey for proof… all first round QBs that have all flopped for Washington…
20. Chicago Bears – Kyle Trask, QB – Florida
Previous pick: Wyatt Davis (IOL), when 18th overall
You know the Bears like to get a little fruity in the draft when hunting QB’s. Well they’ve had a pretty good year and look like their set to stay the same or maybe get slightly better over the next couple of years with that stout defence and the bend but don’t break offense. My point is, this may be their best position to grab a decent signal caller for a few years now, so I think they pull the trigger with Trask. He’s a big arm big play QB. Not the most mobile, but his arm strength and accuracy abilities are top notch. That is a trait the Bears haven’t had in a QB for a long while.
True, Trubisky had somewhat of a resurgence in the second half of the season. Perfect. Trask can sit and learn what not to do for a few weeks until Mitch undoubtably s**ts the bed again next season.
21. Indianapolis Colts – Christian Darrisaw, OT – Virginia Tech
Previous pick: Kyle Pitts (TE), when 23rd overall
When I first started writing this 2.0 version, I had my Colts selecting a corner here considering how our defensive secondary got ripped apart by Josh Allen in the super wild-card weekend game. However since then, stalwart veteran tackle Anthony Castonzo has retired leaving a big hole at left tackle on Indy’s already stellar line. It’s maybe not viewed as a massive need, but whilst we’re in a draft full of first round offensive tackle talent, Ballard might want to ensure we take this opportunity to replace Castonzo now whilst we have the chance. Darrisaw is a plug and play pro-ready starting tackle. Keep that o-line formidable please Mr. Ballard!
22. Tennessee Titans – Patrick Jones II, EDGE – Pittsburgh
Previous pick: Rondale Moore (WR), when 26th overall
The Titans have a pretty decent defence but found themselves ranked 30th in sacks and 28th in QB pressures. They need a sack hungry edge rusher with bags of talent which coincidentally is the best way of describing Jones. The only drawback would be he’d have to learn Vrabel’s 3-4 scheme as he’s only ever played in a 4-3 whilst at Pitt, but versatile edge rushers should be able to transition under good coaching fairly easily.
23. New York Jets via Seattle Seahawks – Travis Etienne, RB – Clemson
Previous pick: Travis Etienne (RB), when 31st overall
I’m sticking with Etienne for the Jets with this pick. It’s a slight reach whereas 31st was perfect, but there’s still a talent issue on offense in New York, so why not draft a do-it-all, multi-functional back like Etienne. He’s going to help Darnold get the offense going and there will be plenty of talent in the 2nd/3rd to bolster the defence. Like I said earlier with the 2nd overall pick, I think Saleh gets help for Sam in this first round, Etienne is just that.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Samuel Cosmi, OT – Texas
Previous pick: Jay Tufele (DT), when 32nd overall
What a fall from grace it was from Pittsburgh in 2020. 11-0 to 1-5 over the last 6 weeks and one of the key components for that collapse was their inability on offense. Unable to run the ball and keep the pressure off Big Ben, the o-line is a priority improvement area for the Steelers this off-season. Cosmi is versatile and can play on both sides at tackle giving the Steelers better options on the line.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars via L.A Rams – Rashawn Slater, OT – Northwestern
Previous pick: Paris Ford (S), when 21st overall
Despite being a covid opt-out in 2020, Slater already had high stock on his name after an impressive 2019 campaign. He had an excellent game against former Ohio State and 2nd overall pick Chase Young and kept him pre-occupied all game during their matchup that season and was one of the only tackles to have success against him that year. The Jags have a lot of holes that need fixing all over the field, so in a talent-filled first round for tackles, why not capitalise with one of them here.
26. Cleveland Browns – Kwity Paye, EDGE – Michigan
Previous pick: Christian Barmore (DT), when 20th overall
The Browns roster is pretty stacked on both sides of the ball and really started to get rolling in 2020. But other than Myles Garrett, there is a lack of talent off the edge so Paye makes sense. Paye is a very athletic edge rusher that fits in to Joe Woods’ defensive scheme nicely. Paired with Garrett, this would be a scary and productive duo on the line for the Browns.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Quincy Roche, EDGE – Miami
Previous pick: Chris Rumph II (EDGE), when 29th overall
Another team that would benefit from better quality edge play is the Bucs. Obviously Tom terrific has the offense firing so defence will likely be the most needy area of improvement. Next best edge rusher off the board for me is Miami’s Quincy Roche. Between Roche, Rousseau and Jaelen Phillips, the Hurricanes built a formidable edge presence which is now ready to move to the next level. Roche is a polished rusher with fantastic vision and he projects to be a solid weapon in the NFL.
28. Baltimore Ravens – Rashod Bateman, WR – Minnesota
Previous pick: Terrace Marshall (WR), when 24th overall
We know the Ravens love to run the ball. But as we saw in the divisional round, once a defense takes that away like the Bills did, they haven’t got a lot to offer elsewhere. Hollywood Brown is a speedster and the other wide receivers don’t offer a lot of quality for Jackson to utilise. Bateman is a highly productive receiver that excels in route running and winning contested catches, and is someone that offers the Ravens that extra X-Factor in the passing game.
29. New Orleans Saints – Jaycee Horn, CB – South Carolina
Previous pick: Jaycee Horn (CB), when 25th overall
No change for me here. Horn has been impressive for the Gamecocks. He’s a nippy, well rounded athlete who can shadow the routes and prevents separation.
Janoris Jenkins and Patrick Robinson are coming to the end of their careers and the likes of P.J Williams and Justin Hardee are not the future for the Saints. Providing Brees is staying for 2021 there’s no overriding need of offense to improve and the defensive front 7 in New Orleans is above average.
30. Buffalo Bills – Jaylen Mayfield, OT – Michigan
Previous pick: Jaylen Mayfield (OT), when 28th overall
Another no changer for me. Defensively the Bills look solid and the improvements that are needed are easily addressed later in the draft, so why not take advantage of the chance to improve up front on offense. The o-line have done a terrific job keeping Josh Allen upright this season but adding Mayfield only makes that even better and helps out the run game too.
Mayfield is a highly versatile athlete who is adept at playing either side but can also kick into guard. He’ll be an easy-to-mould, effective offensive lineman that McDermott can plug and play.
31. Green Bay Packers – Terrace Marshall, WR – LSU
Previous pick: Pat Freiermuth (TE), when 27th overall
You know how the Packers caught a lot of flack last year for not taking a receiver? Yeah, I don’t think they’ll make that mistake again. If it wasn’t for Davante Adams playing like a Monstar from Space Jam every week, Aaron Rodgers would struggle to consistently find other wide receivers. Marshall is an incredible do-it-all receiver who is coming off a terrific year thanks to being the default number one option for LSU. His stock has sky-rocketed from being projected as a day 2 prospect 12 months ago to being a day 1 talent now.
32. Kansas City Chiefs – Deonte Brown, IOL – Alabama
Previous pick: Deonte Brown (IOL), when 30th overall
Deonte Brown was one of the only offensive lineman to have success against Auburn’s Derrick Brown (7th overall in 2020 draft to Carolina) in 2019 and bounce backed well from a suspension to open up that season. Fast forward to 2020 and he’s one of the most underrated interior o-lineman in college football despite being a member of the Crimson Tide.
The Chiefs will want to continue protecting their half a billion dollar investment in Mahomes. I know they’ve lost a couple of o-lineman to opt-outs this season, but even so, upgrading at guard would go a long way.