By Christopher Farbolin
With NFL Free Agency in the rearview mirror, we have a much better idea on where the 32 teams stand entering the draft. This offseason has shifted the landscape of the NFL, and with that my mock draft needs an update. My last mock came before free agency, and it’s safe to say a lot has changed since then. Some teams addressed issues in free agency while others have new holes to fill after losing key players this offseason.
The first round of the draft looks completely different after Miami made a pair of trades last week. First, the Dolphins traded their third overall pick to the 49ers, and the Dolphins took the 12th pick. San Francisco obviously moved up to draft an eventual replacement for Jimmy Garoppolo and gave up a ton of draft capital to do so. Miami was not done, as they immediately traded up to the sixth pick with Philadelphia, who took the 12th pick. The trade details go as follows …
Miami-San Francisco trade:
-Third overall pick in 2021
-12th overall pick in 2021(traded to Eagles)
-2021 Third round pick
-2022 First round pick
-2023 First round pick
-Sixth overall pick in 2021
-2021 Fifth round pick
-12th overall pick in 2021
-Fourth round pick in 2021
-2022 First round pick
The first round pick Miami sent to Philly was their own pick, and the Dolphins still have the 2022 first rounder they acquired from San Francisco.
The quarterback market also cleared up after the Panthers traded for Sam Darnold, which eliminates the possibility of Carolina going quarterback at eight overall and guarantees the Jets will take the best quarterback available with the second pick. With all of that being said let’s get into my third mock draft, as the real thing is just a few weeks away …
1.Jacksonville Jaguars- Trevor Lawrence, QB Clemson- In an offseason full of changes and uncertainty the first overall pick remains a lock as the Jaguars get the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck.
2.New York Jets- Zach Wilson, QB BYU- Wilson going second overall appears to be a done deal after the Jets traded Sam Darnold. Wilson is the best QB available and is ready to start Week 1 for a team that needs an immediate starter.
3.San Francisco 49ers(from Miami)- Justin Fields, QB Ohio State- The 49ers sold the farm to move up to the third pick which will certainly be used on a quarterback. Fields has dropped in recent weeks however San Francisco gets their Jimmy Garoppolo replacement. Fields has a stronger arm and is more athletic than Garoppolo and the 49ers are clearly frustrated with Jimmy G’s injury history and limitations if they were willing to give up what they gave up tlo move up.
4.Atlanta Falcons- Kyle Pitts, TE Florida- The Falcons could go quarterback here or trade back however I have Atlanta getting the best college football tight end in recent memory. Atlanta restructured Matt Ryan’s contract to make his cap hit higher in 2022 and 2023 so don’t expect Atlanta to move off of Ryan anytime soon. Instead the Falcons go all in on getting the most out of Ryan’s remaining years and take Pitts at fourth overall. Atlanta had an awful red zone offense in 2020 and the best way to fix that is an elite tight end.
5.Cincinnati Bengals- Penei Sewell, OT Oregon- There has been talk of reuniting Joe Burrow with Ja’Marr Chase however Cincy has to fix the offensive line. Sewell is a can’t miss tackle prospect who will keep Joe Burrow upright for the next decade.
6.Miami Dolphins- Ja’Marr Chase, WR LSU- I’d argue Devonta Smith or Jaylen waddle is a better fit for Miami but Chase is the best receiver in a loaded class. Miami signed Will Fuller but it was only a one year deal and Chase will give Miami a long term option next to Devante Parker. Chase has elite physicality who high points the ball well and is dangerous after the catch.
7.Detroit Lions- DeVonta Smith, WR Alabama- Detroit lost Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones to free agency making receiver high on their needs entering the draft. The Lions take the Heisman Trophy winner to give Jared Goff a true number one receiver.
8.Carolina Panthers- Rashawn Slater, OT Northwestern- Carolina has their quarterback in the future after trading for Sam Darnold and now they need to protect him. The Panthers went all defense in last year’s draft so they get Darnold a great left tackle prospect in Slater.
9.Denver Broncos- Trey Lance, QB NDSU- The Broncos addressed their secondary in free agency by signing Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby. Drew Lock is coming off of a disappointing 2020 and new GM George Paton looks to get his own guy under center. Lance is an elite talent who needs development which means he will sit under Lock for his rookie season and Denver can trade Lock after 2021. The Sam Darnold trade shows that Denver can get a good return for Lock considering he has potential and is on a rookie deal.
10.Dallas Cowboys- Patrick Surtain II, CB Alabama- The Cowboys were fairly quiet in free agency after signing Dak Prescott to a monster extension. The secondary is still a major issue and the best corner in the draft falls to Jerry Jones because Denver no longer has a need for cornerback. Surtain is a smart and physical defensive back who will help Dan Quinn’s secondary.
11.New York Giants- Micah Parsons, LB Penn State- The Giants added Kenny Golladay, John Ross and Kyle Rudolph to their receiving core so the Giants get the best linebacker in this class in Parsons. New York needs help in the middle of their defense and Parsons is a great run stopper and pass rusher.
12.Philadelphia Eagles(from Miami)- Jaylen Waddle, WR Alabama– Philadelphia is clearly sold on Jalen Hurts after trading outside of the top 10. Philly is still able to address receiver with the fastest WR in this class. Hurts is reunited with a college teammate who will be the Eagles best deep threat since DeSean Jackson.
13.Los Angeles Chargers- Christian Darrisaw, OT Virginia Tech- LA landed the best center in football, Corey Lindsley in free agency however tackle remains a weakness. Darrisaw translates to tackle at the next level and will protect Justin Herbert’s blindside.
14.Minnesota Vikings- Kwity Paye, DE Michigan- Minnesota wasn’t able to improve their pass rush in free agency so Paye remains the pick at 14. Paye will give the Vikings a much needed pass rushing presence that was lacking in 2020.
15.New England Patriots- Mac Jones, QB Alabama- New England loaded up in free agency and Bill Belichick doesn’t plan on drafting in the top 15 again anytime soon so the Patriots get the best quarterback on the board. Jones is similar to Jimmy Garoppolo who Belichick thought very highly of coming out of college. The Pats brought Cam Newton back for another year but Jones is New England’s long term option at the position.
16.Arizona Cardinals- Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT USC- The Cardinals improved their interior offensive line by signing Rodney Hudson at center however the Cards still need an upgrade at guard. Vera-Tucker played tackle at USC but will move to guard at the next level and give Arizona another talented interior offensive lineman.
17.Las Vegas Raiders- Jaycee Horn, CB South Carolina- The Raiders had a rough offseason with all of their offensive line losses however the secondary remains their primary concern. Vegas didn’t address their secondary in free agency but the good news is that Horn falls to them at 17. Horn is a great man coverage corner who matched up with SEC receivers on a weekly basis.
18.Miami Dolphins- Najee Harris, RB Alabama- Miami has added weapons in Will Fuller and Ja’Marr Chase earlier in this mock but still need a reliable top back. Harris is the best back in this class so the Phins reunite Tua with a former Bama teammate as Miami continues to load up at skill positions.
19.Washington Football Team- Samuel Cosmi, OT Texas- Washington still has a glaring need at quarterback but the top five QB prospects are already off the board. Washington needs tackle help and Cosmi is the best tackle available to protect Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2021.
20.Chicago Bears- Caleb Farley, CB Virginia Tech- Like Washington, the Bears still need a quarterback however all the top prospects are already taken. Chicago instead takes Farley who is falling in mock drafts due to back surgery this offseason. The Bears get a steal as Farley was arguably the top rated corner before back surgery and will serve as a great replacement for Kyle Fuller.
21.Indianapolis Colts- Rashod Bateman, WR Minnesota- The Colts still need a left tackle however several of the top tackles are already off the board. Indy brought back T.Y. Hilton but Hilton is aging and inconsistent. The Colts need to give Carson Wentz a reliable weapon on the edge and Bateman is a reliable receiver who wins contested catches and will be a key piece for a team that looks like a top contender in the AFC.
22.Tennessee Titans- Gregory Rousseau, DE Miami- Tennessee brought in Bud Dupree to help their pass rush but the Titans still need a pure defensive end. Rousseau is the best pure defensive end still on the board and the Titans take him to double down on improving their pass rush.
23.New York Jets(from Seattle)- Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB Notre Dame- The Jets got Carl Lawson at defensive end and Corey Davis at wide receiver in free agency however the middle of their defense needs work. Owusu-Koramoah is a steal at 23rd as teams ahead of the Jets address other needs. The Jets have a great first round getting their franchise QB and an elite outside linebacker for Robert Saleh’s 4-3 defense.
24.Pittsburgh Steelers- Azeez Ojulari, DE Georgia- Pittsburgh could either go edge rusher or running back here and go with the former. The Steelers lost Bud Dupree in free agency and need a replacement to line up alongside T.J. Watt. Pittsburgh can address running back on day two of the draft as many good backs will still be available.
25.Jacksonville Jaguars(from LA Rams)- Christian Barmore, DT Alabama- The Jaguars added Marvin Jones to their receiving core but still need help along the interior of their defensive line. Barmore is the best interior defensive lineman i this year’s draft and will help fix the Jaguars atrocious run defense.
26.Cleveland Browns- Joseph Ossai, DE Texas- Cleveland lost Olivier Vernon this offseason and needs a replacement to line up alongside Myles Garrett. Ossai is the best edge rusher available and will force offensive coordinators to focus on two dynamic edge rushers.
27.Baltimore Ravens- Kadarius Toney, WR Florida- The Ravens didn’t make any major upgrades to their receiving core. Even with the signing of Sammy Watkins the Ravens WRs leave a lot to be desired. Toney is a dream fit for Baltimore’s offense as he can be used as a gadget player out of the backfield in pistol formation. Don’t be mistaken Tonmey is far more than a gadget receiver as he is a dangerous downfield threat who is incredibly difficult to tackle after the catch.
28.New Orleans Saints- Terrace Marshall Jr, WR LSU.- The Saints have been rumored to be interested in drafting a long term option at quarterback however there will be several QBs available in the second round. The Saints get a local talent in Marshall Jr. who will replace Emmanuel Sanders as the number two receiver in NOLA.
29.Green Bay Packers- Nick Bolton, LB Missouri- Green Bay didn’t address their inside linebackers in free agency which makes Bolton a great fit. Bolton is a reliable tackler and a high IQ player that fills a hole the Packers have in the middle of their defense.
30.Buffalo Bills- Jaelen Phillips, DE Miami- Phillips is the second Miami edge rusher to go off the board in the first round after the Bills missed out on the JJ Watt sweepstakes and not addressing their pass rush in free agency.
31.Kansas City Chiefs- Teven Jenkings, OT Oklahoma State- The Chiefs made massive strides with their interior offensive line in free agency however have yet to replace Eric Fisher or Mitchell Schwartz at tackle. Jenkins is a hyper aggressive and physical tackle who can play on both the left side and right side.
32.Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Travis Etienne, RB Clemson- The first round of my mock begins and ends with a player out of Clemson. The Bucs brought everyone back in free agency so they don’t have any huge needs. Leonard Fournette is on a one year deal however and the Bucs could use a long term option at running back. Etienne is a great pass catcher which Brady likes and will add to the best roster in football.
Edited by Emma Moloney