April is here which means it is officially NFL draft month! And since it’s officially NFL draft month, I thought it was about time to drop my first mock draft of the year. (Side note: I thought about doing this last week but I’m glad I didn’t since we then saw the San Francisco 49ers trade up to snag the no. 3 overall pick from the Miami Dolphins—but don’t worry, Jimmy Garoppolo is still their guy—and then the Dolphins trade back up to no. 6 overall with the Philadelphia Eagles. Now my mock can reflect that trade!)
As this is my first mock of the year, it’s going to be a very basic one: no trades and likely no real wow picks. I like to just go pretty conservative in my first mock to get a lay of the land. Then stay tuned for later mocks when I decide to just get wet, wild, and crazy with it.
Without further ado, let’s hit the draft music!
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
I’m not going to write a blurb because it’s happening and that’s that.
2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
I’m a big Sam Darnold fan and I think that in Mike LaFleur’s offense, he could see marketable improvements from his time with Adam Gase, but I also understand that drafting Wilson re-sets the Jets timeline since they again have a QB on a rookie salary. Plus, they seem to be really vibing with Wilson.
3. San Francisco 49ers (from Dolphins via Texans): Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Like I said above, the 49ers made news last week, trading three first rounders to move up from 12 overall to the Dolphins’ no. 3 overall. Despite the “We still love Jimmy G” chatter, this is a move that is made for a quarterback. Will it be Mac Jones like the whispers are saying? Dear lord I hope not. Why pick Jones when you can have either Fields or Trey Lance? Personally, I’m going with Fields as he as the accuracy, athleticism, and arm strength to be a star in Kyle Shanahan’s system.
4. Atlanta Falcons: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Perfect landing spot for Lance as the Falcons can give him a red-shirt year behind Matt Ryan and do the seamless Alex Smith—Patrick Mahomes transition that worked so well for the Chiefs. Lance can make plays with his legs and with his arm strength, which will be a deadly combo when paired with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. (At what point do we start listing Ridley before Julio as the alpha of the Falcons’ passing core?)
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Damn Bengals for breaking my perfect QB streak but all good things must come to an end. If there were a pick I’d be most willing to bet a large sum of money on—outside of Trevor Lawrence going no. 1 overall—it’s the Bengals taking Sewell. He’s by far the best O-lineman in the draft and fits a huge need for Cincy as they need to do everything in their power to keep Joe Burrow upright and healthy.
6. Miami Dolphins (from Philadelphia Eagles): Kyle Pitts, TE/WR/Weapon, Florida
The Dolphins could have just stayed at no. 12 overall but they didn’t. Why? Because they want one of the top pass catchers in this draft. Pitts is much more than just a tight end and instantly would be a top weapon for Tua Tagovailoa in Miami. Pitts paired with Will Fuller, DeVante Parker, and Mike Gesicki gives Tua an excellent chest to play with.
7. Detroit Lions: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
The Lions could go wide receiver here in an attempt to help Jared Goff but they signed a bunch of veteran receivers and part of me thinks they want to just suck it up in 2021 to lock in a top pick. Plus, they need to improve this offensive line and Slater goes a long way to doing that.
8. Carolina Panthers: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
In a mock draft with trades, I probably would’ve had the Panthers moving up for either Fields or Lance but since they stayed put, they get Jones. And for the record, Jones is a great quarterback for Matt Rhule to work with. While he doesn’t offer the athleticism that his fellow rookie signal callers do, he does offer pin-point accuracy which will work well in an offense filled with YAC receivers like D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, and Christian McCaffrey.
9. Denver Broncos: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
The Broncos are another team that likely will try and trade up for a quarterback buuuuuuut they didn’t. So instead they didn’t so instead they address their other glaring need at linebacker with by far the best player at the position. Parsons has the elite speed to make plays all over the field and he’ll fit right in to what should be a dominant Broncos defense for 2021.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, DB, Alabama
The Cowboys love how this draft fell as they get their pick of the cornerbacks and ultimately go with Surtain. Surtain’s job will be to erase Kenny Golladay, Terry McLaurin, and... whoever’s on the Eagles twice a year.
11. New York Giants: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Yes the Giants just spent big to bring in Kenny Golladay, but Golladay has played all 16 games once in his career and missed 11 games last year. Chase falling this far is a dream scenario for the Giants as they get the best receiver in the class—shades of the Cowboys doubling down on the position last year with CeeDee Lamb—and stop the Eagles from getting Chase. Poor Eagles.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (from Dolphins via 49ers): DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Smith is “undersized” and that might spook enough GMs to have his draft stock fall, but there’s no way the Eagles are going to let a receiver pass them especially if yet again a team in the NFC East bolsters the position just ahead of them. Oh, and Smith won the Heisman as a receiver and caught 117 balls for 1,856 and 23 touchdowns. Size be damned!
13. Los Angeles Chargers: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
The Chargers made smart moves along the O-line this offseason, headlined by signing center Corey Linsley. Now they solidify their line for Justin Herbert, giving him a franchise left tackle in Darrisaw.
14. Minnesota Vikings: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
With rumors coming out of Minnesota that star pass rusher Danielle Hunter wants a new contract and might push for a trade, addressing their pass rush becomes a priority. Paye is still a little raw in his pass rush, but he has plenty natural tools to work with and could develop into an elite edge defender.
15. New England Patriots: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
The Patriots can’t trade up for a QB and after overspending at receiver in free agency, not sure Bill Belichick would then double down and draft a receiver in the top 15, a position he’s often struggled taking. Collins isn’t a bad consolation prize as he’s a do-it-all linebacker who can lineup all over the Patriots defensive formation, something Belichick loves.
16. Arizona Cardinals: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
The Cardinals clearly are going all in this year with their signings of J.J. Watt and hoping to milk the last bit of juice out of A.J. Green. If they’re going to compete however, they need to address their pass defense which was horrible last year. Horn has the size and coverage ability to be a lockdown no. 1 corner, something the Cardinals desperately need.
17. Las Vegas Raiders: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT, USC
After obliterating their O-line this offseason for no other reason than cap relief?, the Raiders snag a versatile lineman who can play tackle or guard and helps takes a step forward in rebuilding that once-dominant position.
18. Miami Dolphins: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
The Dolphins get their chess piece on offense and now address their pass rush. Ojulari can play in a variety of schemes, which is good when playing in Brian Flores’ defense. He’s a relentless pass rusher who will give the Dolphins’ defense a needed boost.
19. Washington Football Team: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
It’s been a great offseason for WFT signing Ryan Fitzpatrick and Curtis Samuel. Now they help solidify their offensive line, snagging a powerful tackle who can play either side of the line and mow people down.
20. Chicago Bears: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Waddle lasting this long would be a blessing for the Bears who desperately need another reliable pass catcher alongside Allen Robinson. Waddle has game wrecking speed and would be a valuable piece in Matt Nagy’s offense—after all Nagy does know a thing or two about speed in one’s offense coming from the Chiefs.
21. Indianapolis Colts: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
The Colts could use tackle help but with WFT snagging Jenkins a few picks ahead of them, they instead continue to improve Carson Wentz’s weapons. Bateman is a big receiver who can create separation with his crafty route running. We’ve seen route running receiver come in and immediately make a big impact—Calvin Ridley, Justin Jefferson to name a few—and Bateman would give the Colts a strong young receiving core.
22. Tennessee Titans: Caleb Farley, DB, Virginia Tech
The Titans lost Adoree Jackson and Malcolm Butler this offseason and now find themselves thin at corner. Farley here is a no-brainer as he boosts a big frame and elite athleticism and coverage ability.
23. New York Jets (from Seahawks): Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
The Jets could probably wait for running back in the 2nd round but I’m not doing a two round mock so I’m giving them a running back here. Harris would be a perfect back for Mike LaFleur’s offense and his natural pass catching abilities also make him a terrific security blanket for new quarterback Zac Wilson. If the Jets draft Harris, fantasy-wise, ya boy HYPED.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Wyatt Davis, OL, Ohio State
If the Steelers really want to be successful with the old body of Ben Roethlisberger under center, they need to improve their O-line, otherwise this offense won’t be able to do anything. Davis is a beast of a blocker who can get it done in both in the ground and passing games.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Rams): Carlos Basham Jr., EDGE, Wake Forest
The Jaguars’ D-line sorely misses a big presence like Calais Campbell and Basham can help fill that void. At 6-foot-5, 285, Basham can play inside and outside, is a disrupter in the run game, and can get after the quarterback as well.
26. Cleveland Browns: Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama
The Browns get a stud here in Barmore who instantly becomes one of their top players along the defensive line. The duo of Barmore on the inside and Myles Garrett on the outside will give offensive coordinator’s nightmares when they have to gameplan for the Browns.
27. Baltimore Ravens: Terrance Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
The Ravens need a big physical receiver and so they get a big physical receiver. At 6-foot-4, Marshall can go up and win contested balls on the outside and can be a force in the red zone. He also boasts the speed to get behind defenses, a nice addition to the speed the Ravens already have at their receiver position.
28. New Orleans Saints: Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
Malcolm Jenkins looked OLD last year and the Saints need to improve their secondary now that their offense won’t be as reliable with Drew Brees retiring. Moehrig can play all over the defense and will give the Saints a versatile weapon to deploy.
29. Green Bay Packers: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Oh man, if JOK lasts this long in the actual draft, the Packers organization will be jumping for joy as they hand in this pick. JOK is an exceptional coverage linebacker who also played time at safety at Notre Dame. He’s a perfect piece to this Packers defense to help take them to the next level.
30. Buffalo Bills: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
Rousseau is raw but the potential is off the charts. In Buffalo, with second-year rusher A.J. Espinosa, and veteran pass rushers Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison, Rousseau has a little more time to develop. But he could quickly emerge as both the steal of the draft here and one of the best pass rushers in the league in a few short years.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
You gotta protect Patrick Mahomes and there’s no one better to do that than a man named Alex Leatherwood. That is a goddamn football name.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, UCLA/Miami
With the Buccaneers bringing the old band back together, they can just pick best available here at the end of the draft. Phillips has the size and length to play all over the D-line and with Jason Pierre-Paul, Ndamukong Suh, and William Gholston all on one-year deals, adding depth to the D-line moving forward is a must.