by Zack Lambert (@bigbird8224)
November 17th, 2020
With the college football and NFL seasons halfway over it’s time to dive back into draft coverage. My draft order and team needs were sourced from other sites and since this is a preliminary mock I’ll keep the analysis to a minimum. May this be the start to a prosperous mock season!
1. New York Jets
Trevor Lawrence, Quarterback
This is a no brainer. Ever since taking over Clemson in 2018 and winning the title he’s been a lock for this draft. Considering the Jets have been starting Joe Flacco at the position this season, it’s clear where they need to prioritize.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
Justin Fields, Quarterback
Another no brainer for the Jags. The Gardner Minshew project was fun but it isn’t anything we can work with long term. Justin Fields has a decent chance of winning the Heisman this season and is the undisputed best dual threat in the draft. With an absolutely terrible offense in Jacksonville there’s no way that they can pass up on the Ohio State quarterback.
3. Washington Football Team
Penei Sewell, Offensive Tackle
After Trent Williams was traded to San Francisco it was obvious that there would be a big hole on the left side of the line, literally and figuratively, so getting the best tackle in the draft is a step towards fixing that. Sewell opted out of this season at Oregon but has put one some clinics in prior years and shapes up to be the best blocker in this whole draft.
4. Dallas Cowboys
Samuel Cosmi, Offensive Tackle
This could be a slight reach for the Texas behemoth, but the scenarios play out just right for him to go here. Dallas needs offensive line help and Cosmi is a 6’7 mauler up front who can step right in at left tackle. Plus he’s a Texas boy and the local fans will get behind him immediately. Win-win for Jerry.
5. Los Angeles Chargers
Dillon Radunz, Offensive Tackle
The first FCS player off the table, Dillon Radunz is another monster blocker, this time coming out of North Dakota State. The Chargers hit the jackpot with Justin Herbert and the next step is keeping him upright and on the field, so whether that means getting a new training staff or drafting a really talented tackle, they need to do it. Radunz has been on the draft radar since his first season with the Bison and he’s worth the high pick.
6. Miami Dolphins (via Houston)
De’Vonta Smith, Wide Receiver
Miami should be sending Bill O’Brien a Christmas gift this season thanking him for gutting the Texans because they’re going to profit big time from the Laremy Tunsil trade. Tua looks to be legit at quarterback and since the defense has played so well this season the next step is shoring up the skill positions. Smith may not be the best wide receiver in this draft but he’s really close and was just fantastic when Tua was passing the ball to him, so I don’t see a reason why the Dolphins wouldn’t reunite the two in Miami.
7. Cincinnati Bengals
Ja’Marr Chase, Wide Receiver
How convenient! Assuming Miami doesn’t take Chase then he could fall to the Bengals where Joe Burrow would sure love to play with him. Chase and Burrow connected for 20 touchdowns and nearly 1800 yards in LSU’s Championship season and since Cincinnati needs help in the pass catching department this is an easy pick. Chase is probably the top receiver in the draft anyways so it isn’t like they would be reaching, either.
8. New York Giants
Gregory Rousseau, EDGE
There’s a whole lot of ways that the Giants could go with this draft and a lot of them include looking at quarterbacks, but I’ll say they finally go after the Jason Pierre-Paul replacement with Greg Rousseau out of Miami. Rousseau also isn’t playing this season but last year he recorded 15.5 sacks for the Canes in 13 games with a pair of forced fumbles. He warrants the pick and could be the first defensive player off the board.
9. Carolina Panthers
Micah Parsons, Linebacker
A lot of players opted out of this Covid-riddled season and Parsons was another one of them. The Penn State linebacker is a generational talent at the position and that’s exactly what Carolina has needed since Thomas Davis and Luke Keuchley departed. Parsons had 109 tackles, 52 solo stops, 14 TFL, five sacks, five passes defended, and four forced fumbles last season for the Nittany Lions. In a pretty weak draft class he’s the standout at the position.
10. Atlanta Falcons
Trey Lance, Quarterback
I’m not saying that Matt Ryan is finished or needs to retire with this pick, but Ryan is a really good player to learn from and Lance needs that mentorship. The NDSU quarterback is very skilled and is a dual threat at the position but his passing needs to improve a lot and playing under a former MVP and still very reliable passer in Matt Ryan for at least a season will help iron out those accuracy issues and help an FCS player adjust to a whole new level of football.
11. Denver Broncos
Patrick Surtain II, Cornerback
Again, this draft is really light and although Surtain is a really talented cornerback, he might not rate so high in a draft class like last season. Either way, he’s the best corner on this list and Alabama secondary players are always prized possessions so Denver will make the pick. They need secondary help a lot in that light air, especially if the offense is incapable of winning games in a consistent manner.
12. San Francisco 49ers
Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
So like the Giants there’s a lot of different paths the 49ers could follow for this draft. If there’s a quarterback they like they might jump for him. The offensive line could use help, the skill positions are always reinforceable, the defensive line could use work, there’s just a lot to do for the reigning Super Bowl runners-up. However, I’m going with the most important defensive position which also happens to be very thin this season. Farley could be the only other corner to warrant a first round tag this season and making that position better would make the team a great deal better so it might be the path the 49ers choose to take.
13. Detroit Lions
Jaylen Waddle, Wide Receiver
It’s not the biggest position of need for Detroit, but having a pair of really talented wide receivers can keep a quarterback a lot younger for a long time and that would be a good thing for Matt Stafford. Pairing Waddle with Kenny Golladay gives Stafford another great option to pass to and will hold the team over until later rounds when the better offensive line value comes around. This is a “best available player” pick more than anything.
14. Minnesota Vikings
Christian Barmore, Defensive Tackle
Another Alabama player? That’s right. Minnesota had one of the best defenses in the country a couple of seasons ago but that unit is long gone. Barmore is the best defensive tackle in this draft class and adding an Alabama player to get pressure is always a good idea. I like a defensive oriented coach to improve the pass rush before dipping into the deeper offensive prospects in later rounds.
15. New England Patriots
Terrace Marshall Jr., Wide Receiver
Last season Marshall scored 13 touchdowns with Joe Burrow passing to him and this season he’s already scored nine with a bunch of terrible LSU quarterbacks throwing the ball in less than half the games. This version of Marshall is a serious problem and the Patriots have lacked a receiver that creates problems since Randy Moss. Belechiek is long overdue on taking a good wide receiver and that’s what he’ll do this season.
16. Chicago Bears
Zach Wilson, Quarterback
Sorry, Trent. If you watched last night’s Monday Night Football or just have been conscious in the past few years you know that the Bears need a quarterback badly. A team can’t win games in this age with less than 200 yards of offense and Zach Wilson hasn’t produced less than 200 yards of offense in a game since November 17th, 2018. BYU’s quarterback has exploded this season and will contend for the Heisman this season as well as getting his team’s name in the conversation for the Playoff. The Bears have to get better at the position and this is a good reset.
17. Cleveland Browns
Shaun Wade, Cornerback
The secondary issues are out of control for Cleveland this season and all possible actions to avoid wasting the talent in the front seven need to be taken. Safety isn’t a problem position, it’s just really injured for the Browns, so picking up a very good cornerback in Shaun Wade will help mitigate future issues and increase depth for the position. The fact that he’s a local product from Ohio State helps a lot.
18. Tennessee Titans
Kwity Paye, EDGE
With Jadeveon Clowney on a one year deal there will be an opening for a pass rusher in Tennessee and this draft is actually a decent one to draw from. Michigan’s Kwity Paye broke out last season and has fought through double teams all of this season to stay productive. He’ll be able to step into the rotation immediately and get to the quarterback with some regularity.
19. Philadelphia Eagles
Dylan Moses, Linebacker
Philadelphia is a really bad team and it’s actually hurt by the fact it’s going to make the playoffs because they get a much worse pick than they deserve. With the upper echelon of wide receivers gone they’ll turn to defense where they need a tackle sponge and Dylan Moses is just that. Alabama’s best linebacker was injured last season but came back for his senior season to rehab and raise his draft stock. Both sides of that plan were a success and the Eagles ought to take him and get better on defense.
20. Arizona Cardinals
Travis Etienne, Clemson
We’ve seen just how good Kyler Murray is and what kind of potential the Cardinals have with him at the helm, so why not take this offense to the next, and maybe final, level with the best runner in college football? Travis Etienne might have been the top running back taken in last year’s draft but returned to Clemson for another title shot and to break the ACC rushing mark. He’s done the latter and looks absolutely dominant next to a good young quarterback. The Cards can get better in the run and give Kyler some protection with this pick.
21. New York Jets (via Seattle)
Kyle Pitts, Tight End
This might be a bit of a reach for the Jets but some of the best modern offenses have truly outstanding tight ends catching passes and that’s what the Jets can get for Trevor Lawrence. Pitts is the best pass catching tight end in college football at Florida and could sustain that success in the NFL, even with the Jets. If Lawrence is any type of good in the league he’ll be able to get the ball to Pitts with consistency and that will mean success for both parties.
22. Miami Dolphins
Wyatt Davis, Guard
AFter taking a wide receiver with their first pick Miami will want to start putting finishing touches on the offense. The line still needs work and Davis is the best guard in the draft. Ohio State’s best lineman is not only massive, coming in at 6’4, but he’s athletic as well and taking an interior lineman will give them some versatility to move plug and play with the rest of the line while getting the fragile Tua some additional protection.
23. Indianapolis Colts
Alex Leatherwood, Offensive Tackle
Leatherwood may be gone by this point in the draft and it wouldn’t surprise me if he was gone in the first 10 picks, but the way this mock plays out means he’s headed to the Colts. While Indy does need help at quarterback as well, Leatherwood will turn this line back into a juggernaut and make life a lot easier for anyone who’s back there. The Alabama product could have come out last season but stayed to raise his stock and that was a successful endeavor.
24. Baltimore Ravens
Rashod Bateman, Wide Receiver
I’m not sure what Baltimore expected this season, but when a team runs the same exact offense in the NFL two seasons in a row without making significant changes to style or personnel, that second season is going to be hell. That’s the case for Lamar and the Ravens. They needed a stud wide receiver last season and didn’t get one, so going after the best available this season is a must. Bateman isn’t a first-year stud, but he’s a very nice product to grow in the offense.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Los Angeles Rams)
Jaycee Horn, Cornerback
Horn just opted out of the 2020 season after the firing of Will Muschamp, but prior to that he was working himself into position to be a top corner in the draft. The Jaguars need help everywhere and after getting a starter at quarterback, they need one at cornerback. Horn is the best option at the position at this point in the draft so he’s an easy decision. A couple of picks and shutdown production this season only furthers his case.
26. Las Vegas Raiders
Creed Humphrey, Center
With the offense humming along with Derek Carr at the helm and the defense making strides, getting better on the offensive line is the next logical step. Humphrey is a mauler up front and having blocked for Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts, you can be sure he’s athletic enough to do whatever sort of blocks you need him to engage. He’s the best center in the draft and might be the best interior offensive lineman in general.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Rondale Moore, Wide Receiver
I guess? Tampa Bay is an enigma this season and their production skyrockets and free falls week to week. With Evans looking temperamental, Godwin as an injury issue, and Brown as someone who might not be on the team in a couple of weeks, Rondale Moore could be the quiet, productive fit Arians wants. Moore is a do-it-all player with unreal physical talent and great hands, plus he can line up anywhere Arians can dream of scheming him. He’s a good fit for the team and for Brady.
28. Buffalo Bills
Tyson Campbell, Cornerback
Josh Allen has cemented himself as a great option at quarterback and a true star for the Bills and the offense has done a great job this season. The defense is another story and help in the secondary is needed, as evidenced by the end of the Arizona game. Campbell is as good of a corner Buffalo could ask for and you know he’s ready for the NFL coming out of Georgia. Improving the secondary improves this defense which improves this team.
29. Green Bay Packers
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Linebacker
Certainly some skill position help for a disgruntled Aaron Rodgers, yes? Nah. Rodgers has played himself out of help from the draft in a couple of different ways so the Packers are going to get some versatility for the defense. The best way I can describe this Notre Dame linebacker is as Isaiah Simmons Lite. He’s not as big as Simmons but can do all the same things, rushing the quarterback, containing edges, spying, dropping into coverage, manning up, whatever. Just, not really as good. But still worthy of the pick. Maybe.
30. Kansas City Chiefs
Trey Smith, Guard
If there’s one thing we know it’s that Kansas City doesn’t need help at the skill positions on offense. When your team is this good you get better in the margins and adding depth and possible starting talent on the offensive line for the most expensive football player ever is the best move. Smith is a great blocker in both forms of offense and though he hasn’t played in a good offense before he has played against SEC talent his whole career and could start as a rookie for KC.
31. New Orleans Saints
Kyle Trask, Quarterback
So this is an interesting spot for a really good team. Drew Brees is hurt and it might be his final season anyways. I suppose New Orleans could go back in with Jameis or even try out Taysom Hill (if they’re really stupid, which Sean Peyton can be), but getting the young star and potential Heisman winner is the best option. The skill positions in New Orleans are ridiculous and the offensive line looks really god. Improving the defense is a path here but with such a big fork in the road here at quarterback they need to prioritize the more important position. Trask can make them better.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers
Marvin Wilson, Defensive Tackle
There’s actually a good number of positions that Pittsburgh could improve in the draft and quarterback is one of them, but with things operating at such a high level right now we’ll need a bit more time to see where the needs are really glaring. The Steelers have really good quarterback rushing talent but Cam Heyward is getting old and the line will need some patches after this season. Wilson is one of the few very good tackles in college right now and snagging him to improve the rotation at the least will be a smart pickup for the Steelers.