With the season already over for half the teams in the NFL, I have decided to create a mock draft for those of us who did not get a ticket for postseason play. I am not going to use any kind of trades either as those are hard to predict so I will only use current team needs to try and fit a certain player with a team. Free agency will no doubt alter team’s draft plans so take this with a grain of salt moving forward.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – QB Trevor Lawrence
This is a no-brainer as Jacksonville looks to rebuild their franchise starting with the most important position in the game. Quarter Gardner Minshew showed flashes but he was not as nearly as consistent as a quarterback needs to be in this league. With Lawrence at the helm, this team actually has the potential to do some damage as their wide receiver core is big, young, and fast. Landing a generational quarterback when you have the first pick in the draft can have a Troy Aikman-like trajectory or a Tim Couch demise so buyer beware.
2. New York Jets – OT Penei Sewell
I would be ecstatic as an NFL GM to draft quarterback Zach Wilson who is my favorite quarterback in this draft but I also do not think Sam Darnold is done in this NFL. I just think the Jets needed to get him away from Adam Gase ala Ryan Tannehill. Protecting a young signal-caller is crucial to their development so pairing him with last year’s first-round pick Mechi Becton makes for a fantastic young tackle duo in the NFL. This draft is loaded at wide receiver so I would imagine the Jets will grab a Sam Darnold weapon later in this round. Sewell reminds me of a player who could replicate the career of Hall of Fame lineman Larry Allen.
3. Miami Dolphins – WR DeVonta Smith
If the Miami Dolphins are going to move forward with Tua Tagovailoa as their quarterback, they must give him some more weapons to work with. Adding this year’s Heisman Trophy winner to the fold will no doubt help Tua and his development as well as open up opportunities for the other players on this roster.
4. Atlanta Falcons – CB Caleb Farley
I was tempted to place Zach Wilson here but I think the Atlanta Falcons will once again hire another defensive-minded coach and allow the offense to continue to do what they have done for the past few years. Adding what many people think is the best cornerback in this draft a year after taking a corner in last year’s draft signals the team is serious about upgrading their defensive backfield.
5. Cincinnati Bengals – OT Rashawn Slater
Reuniting Joe Burrow with his favorite college target was awfully hard to pass up but with plenty of weapons to work with already, it would better serve the team to provide Burrow with some protection rather than add another weapon. Keeping Burrow upright and healthy should be priority number one for this franchise. Slater is someone that some have rated higher than Sewell. I am not one of those people but I do think that Slater will be an above-average left tackle that will be placed on the line and forgotten about for the next ten years.
6. Philadelphia Eagles – WR Ja’Marr Chase
The Philadelphia Eagles have a plethora of needs so they can go just about anywhere with this pick. I believe that they will give whoever is at quarterback a weapon so that the team can move on from aging veterans like Deshawn Jackson and Alshon Jeffrey for immediate salary cap relief. I believe there will be a mass exodus of veteran players this offseason from this team so this is the most uncertain pick in the entire mock draft. This is the pivot point in the draft where this selection will alter what other teams want to accomplish.
7. Detroit Lions – QB Zach Wilson
This is where I had the most difficult time deciding what needs to be done. The Lions could certainly upgrade almost all their defensive positions so bringing in a defensive player would work but there isn’t a game-breaking defensive player like Chase Young in this year’s draft. I am a huge Matt Stafford fan but I think it might be time for both parties to move on from one another. The team could get a nice haul for what is still an upper-echelon quarterback but asking Stafford to rebuild once again is not fair to a player who deserves to compete for a championship. There are a few teams that fancy themselves as a quarterback away from contending and Stafford could provide that and more (Indianapolis, Chicago). Drafting Wilson allows the team to grow with who I believe is the best quarterback in this year’s draft.
8. Carolina Panthers – QB Justin Fields
This one feels like it is a typical Carolina thing to do as the similarities between Fields and Newton are strong. Both players have major questions coming out of college as they were both basically one read quarterbacks who used their superior athletic skills to move the ball when their passing game was not working. If Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman lands a head coaching gig, I fully expect that franchise to make Fields it’s top choice. If not, Carolina gets a young athlete that needs work. He could also sit for a year behind incumbent quarterback Teddy Bridgewater which would be a wise move as I do not believe Fields is ready to hit the field in an NFL game.
9. Denver Broncos – LB Micah Parsons
The Denver Broncos used their first two picks on offense last year and this year is time for the team to make some defensive progress. Getting Von Miller back will be huge so taking a sideline to sideline backer makes sense. Landing this player who was seemingly everywhere at Penn State has to make this franchise giddy. Quarterback Drew Lock gets another year to prove his worth. Parsons would be a plug and play linebacker with versatility that would give Vic Fangio another defensive weapon to use on his side of the ball.
10. Dallas Cowboys – CB Patrick Surtain II
Pairing Surtain with former Alabama teammate Trevon Diggs in Dallas is a dream scenario for America’s Team. Dallas had an awful defensive performance so picking a player that could turn your defensive backfield into a strength is an easy dot to connect. Truth be told, any defensive player would help this team but getting a shutdown cornerback from a school like Alabama could make this the steal of the draft.
11. New York Giants – WR Jaylen Waddle
The return of Saquon Barkley should help an ailing offense but providing Daniel Jones with an outside threat could make this offense a very scary sight to see. Although Waddle was injured for most of the year, he is still projected to have an impact similar to the wide receivers taken this past year. I hope for the Giant’s sake that GM David Gettleman gets this pick right or it could be his last leading job in the NFL.
12. San Francisco 49ers – CB Shaun Wade
Richard Sherman is as cerebral as a player comes and once he started to show signs of slowing down, he countered everyone he played by utilizing savvy veteran moves to keep up. He can only do that for so long so I have San Francisco taking the best available cornerback in Shaun Wade. Even if Sherman returns, the secondary could use an injection of talent and youth.
13. Los Angeles Chargers – RB Travis Etienne
The Los Angeles Chargers do not have many hles to fill so almost every draft pick they have will enter the team knowing they have an uphill battle to making the team. The one position that is weaker than the rest of their roster could also benefit their young star quarterback. Travis Etienne has a lot of mileage on his body and I think he should have come out last year but he could not go to a better spot as he and Austin Eckler could form a dangerous backfield duo. What to do with Hunter Henry could change this pick but for now, I am going with the bell-cow back.
14. Minnesota Vikings – TE Kyle Pitts
The NFC North is going to hate this selection as Kyle Pitts is a mismatch nightmare. Having to defend Justin Jefferson and Adam Theilen is already tough enough but giving Kirk Cousins another weapon will only open up the offense more. This would also allow the team to move on from tight end Zach Rudolph and give the team some much needed salary cap room. The team replaced Stephon Diggs with Jefferson and I expect the same to happen with Rudolph. Landing a player that could revolutionize the position is just too good to pass up and I expect the team to rebuild their defense through free agency.
15. New England Patriots – QB Mac Jones
I was tempted to put quarterback Trey Lance here as he is the better prospect but Mac Jones is a better fit for New England. Jones comes from a place where attention to detail is a team staple and his adjustment to the league will be easier than most other young signal-callers. Nick Saban is also a close friend of Bill Belichick so I am sure the two will talk about what type of player Jones really is.
16. Arizona Cardinals – RB Najee Harris
Arizona was probably the hardest team to draft for as the team has an unusual roster. The players they draft are specifically taken to fit a certain scheme. Harris is a bigger running back but has the athleticism to fit in what the Cardinals want to do offensively. Harris can catch out of the backfield and is a decent blocker. What Harris provides is a back who can hammer the inside of a defense which would alleviate some of the pressure on quarterback Kyler Murray.
17. Las Vegas Raiders – DT Daviyon Nixon
The Raiders could not stop the run this past season so pairing them with the best interior defender in this draft is something the Raiders have to do. It also helps that this run-stuffing defensive lineman also has some pass-rushing traits that defensive guru Rod Marinelli could certainly work with. Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden have certainly gone off course a bit during their Raiders drafting tenure but this obvious hole has to be filled and filled soon.
18. Miami Dolphins – WR Chris Olave
I am going to double up on the weapons for Tua and taking a wideout that can absolutely take the top off a defense qualifies as a weapon. Miami is certainly no stranger to loading up on a single position so this pick makes total sense. There are definitely some holes on this roster that need to be addressed but the temptation to give this team some outside weapons is just too much. Even if Tua is not the answer at quarterback, whoever the team hypothetically would bring in after him would certainly benefit from having so much talent on the edges.