June 14, 2021

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NFL Mock Draft 2.0: Early Round Chaos

by Zack Lambert (@bigbird8224)
January 6th, 2021

I made a bet with my father last night during the Heisman events that Kyle Trask would be taken in the top five picks of the NFL draft. He believed he would and in a normal year he might be, but being a ruthless money shark, I decided to make a quick five bucks off my own dad. Maybe it’s not the right thing to do, he’s recently 74 years old and believes Jacob deGrom shouldn’t have won the Cy Young because he didn’t have enough wins, but like I said, ruthless.

So why am I telling you this? Mainly it’s because of what could happen at the top of this draft. There’s a ton of good quarterbacks in this draft and there’s three (or four) potentially great ones at the top. The fact that I don’t think Trask is one of them after a 4,200 yard, 43 touchdown season is one of them and that’s a consensus around the sport speaks volumes to that truth. There’s a very real chance that the top of this draft becomes a feeding frenzy, teams bidding each other up to snap at the top quarterbacks. The Jaguars and Jets aren’t going anywhere, but a nice package could maybe persuade the Dolphins or Bengals to take a couple of steps back so other teams could get a quarterback.

I’m not predicting trades here, so the chaos that I mentioned in the title is coming solely from team decisions that would throw this draft into a listing position, one that would shock everyone. Most of that comes in a couple of the top picks, but that’s enough to make alarms go off in real life. Do I think this will actually happen? No. But would it be fun? Of course. Enjoy the mock and let me know what you think your team should be doing in late April.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

Trevor Lawrence, Quarterback
I said back in November that this is a no-brainer and I’ll say it again. Even with his lackluster showing against Ohio State in the semifinal and my desire to mix things up here, Lawrence is the top pick. I’m not as certain as most people are that he’s going to be a surefire all-time great, but I’ve loved him ever since I saw his incredible flow at the Elite 11 camp. He’s a fantastic quarterback and deserves to be at the top.

2. New York Jets

Zach Wilson, Quarterback
Even after the great game that Fields had against Lawrence’s Clemson, Zach Wilson is the second best quarterback in this draft to me. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Fields go here, but the arm talent that Wilson showed off this season is jaw-dropping at times. He has deadly accuracy to all fields and an absolute missile to get the ball down field. Those who aren’t too into college football might find this pick surprising, but if you’ve watched much film on this guy you know he’s great.

3. Miami Dolphins via Houston 

Justin Fields, Quarterback

That’s right. Reset. Tua hasn’t shown us enough this season to prove that he’s the right guy at quarterback, so it’s time to use this blessing of a pick to take another one. Fields was a bit unimpressive during the regular season but his herculean and injured effort to overcome Clemson is enough to get people back on board. He’s a great dual threat talent and already has NFL starter chops. The defense in Miami is already very good so give Fields the reins and he’ll produce some magic. Out with the new! In with the newer!

4. Atlanta Falcons

Trey Lance, Quarterback
Another one! Atlanta seems set on finding their Matt Ryan replacement, so why not Lance? He has a cannon of an arm with precision accuracy and he’s great on the move. There aren’t many better in the draft when rolling out and though he may not be equipped to start right away considering there are a couple of issues to clean up, he’s going to be very good as well. Plus, a mobile quarterback will help bring that anemic running game out of the sewer.

5. Cincinnati Bengals

Penei Sewell, Offensive Tackle
Jonah WIlliams is still a good player despite his injury issues, so sliding him over to the right side and letting Penei Sewell, one of the best tackle talents we’ve seen in a while, take over on the left side, would be a smart move for the Bengals. Burrow clearly isn’t as durable as we once thought and giving him another layer of protection right now is exactly what the Bengals need. Sewell can make this line airtight and that’s something that Cincy needs desperately.

6. Philadelphia Eagles

DeVonta Smith, Wide Receiver
As I mentioned earlier, Smith just won the Heisman Trophy and for good reason. He was by far the best and most impactful player in the country this season and without him Alabama would not be where they are right now. Philadelphia desperately needs weapons on the outside and with Jalen Hurts taking the reins, his connection with Smith could be the answer for the offense. He may need to get a bit bigger before he takes over in the NFL, but he’s good enough to step in and immediately be their number one. In my later, more realistic mocks I will probably have him going in the top five, but for now he’s destined for Philadelphia. Sorry, man.

7. Detroit Lions

Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
I don’t know how many times two wide receivers from the same team have gone back to back in the top 10 of an NFL Draft, but it can’t be too many times if any. The Lions are in need of a good wide receiver to help keep Stafford young until their future is sorted out. They could go in plenty of directions here, but Waddle is the next best receiver and his prowess is arguably as good as Smith’s.

8. Carolina Panthers

Micah Parsons, Linebacker
Parsons is the best linebacker and probably the best defensive player in this draft. He’s a walking tackle and with his athleticism and effectiveness, he could probably step in and take over the Panther’s defense right away. Carolina could look for a quarterback here but I think that they’ll pray McCaffery can stay healthy and try to replace Luke Keuchly. Parsons could be the best linebacker out of college in the past few years and that’s not something to take lightly if you’re Matt Ruhle.

9. Denver Broncos

Patrick Surtain II, Cornerback
If you don’t think Parsons is the best defensive talent in the country, then you probably have to go with Surtain. Surtain’s father was a good player in the NFL but his son is going to be even better. This season for Alabama Surtain is allowing 20 yards per game for players that he’s covering. 20. He actually takes away half of the field and will turn you over if you test him. He’s ready for a starting spot right now.

10. Dallas Cowboys

Rashawn Slater, Offensive Lineman
I listed Slater as a lineman because he can really play anywhere. He’s played right tackle for most of his career which isn’t ideal, but he can play center or left tackle and has the body to slot in at one of the guard positions. He’s probably the best run blocking tackle in the draft and will fit in nicely to an already very good line. The Cowboys don’t have much of a direction right now but they do have an offensive line and Zeke Elliot, so why not make that aspect better?

11. New York Giants

Kwity Paye, EDGE
Paye is one of the best edge talents in college football and should be a three-down guy in the NFL. He has the size to hold his own in the run and the move to beat tackles on passing plays. The Giants could do any number of things with this pick, including testing the quarterback waters again, but I think getting the best player is the right move for them. They still need a guy who can consistently get into the backfield and Paye will fill that void.

12. San Francisco 49ers

Wyatt Davis, Guard
I usually have a reach or two in my mocks and this may be one of them, but I don’t think this will be too bad of one if this is indeed prophetic. Davis is one of the best interior lineman in a draft with a lot of very good ones and San Francisco needs help on the line. San Francisco could also be in the market for a quarterback, but with Garoppolo not really being that bad, they should focus on other areas. Getting that offense back into shape while the defense is humming should be a priority and considering Robert Saleh may be on his way to take over another team, that priority should be front and center.

13. Los Angeles Chargers

Christian Darrisaw, Offensive Tackle
The Chargers passed on taking one of the really good offensive tackles in the draft last season, a decision that proved wise considering how good Justin Herbert was, but now they have another chance to snag a good one as Christian Darrisaw falls to them. Virginia Tech was a mess this season but one of the constants was on the line. He won the Outland Trophy for PFF and will bring an added layer of protection that’s exactly what the Chargers need. The offense is pretty close and hitting on Darrisaw will make them one of the best units in 2021.

14. Minnesota Vikings

Christian Barmore, Defensive Tackle
Somehow Minnesota kept the same pick as they had in November and I have the same player mocked to them. That team that went to the NFC Championship game against Philadelphia in 2017 has dematerialized so there’s plenty of questions, but most of them are on the defense. It was between Barmore and Trevon Moehrig for TCU for this pick, but Barmore provides more value at a more impactful position. He could be one of those one man wrecking crews, and that’s what the team needs considering how well the offense did this season.

15. New England Patriots

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Linebacker
The soul of the Notre Dame defense this season was safety Kyle Hamilton, but the beating heart that made the unit efficient was JOK. Owusu-Koramoah might be seen as a bit small for the NFL as is, but he’s more than talented enough. He’s versatile and very dependable which will make him a great fit for New England. He’ll be used in just about any package Belichick can draw up and will step right into the rotation of a depleted roster. Owusu-Koramoah has the mindset and attitude that is required in New England.

16. Arizona Cardinals

Caleb Farley, Cornerback
Arizona’s offense turned the corner this season as Kyler Murray became a superstar with DeAndre Hopkins at his disposal, but there are still areas of improvement. They could get Etienne here, but I feel as though that might be a reach. Improving the offensive line is another option as Murray isn’t very big and won’t be able to sustain too many hits, but the best value at this pick comes in Caleb Farley. He’s been overlooked this season on a bad team in the ACC but he’s a true shutdown corner who can step into a starting role right away. Keeping the ball in Murray’s hands will win games for Arizona and Farley will be integral in doing that.

17. Las Vegas Raiders

Gregory Rousseau, EDGE
The Raiders also seemed to have turned some sort of corner this season, beating the Chiefs and staying in playoff contention until late in the season, but things fell apart towards the end. A player that can help bring stability in one of the most important positions on the field is Gregory Rousseau. The giant pass rusher skipped out on this season to prepare for the draft having already proven his value. He’s the most proven pass rusher in this draft and the upside is monumental, having accrued 15.5 sacks as a sophomore last season. He could be their new Kahlil Mack.

18. Miami Dolphins

Kyle Pitts, Tight End
I have a tough time justifying taking a tight end very high in the draft, even when they’re as prolific as Pitts is, so the Florida star will likely be taken higher than this. I just have trouble with the value of the position. Regardless, the Dolphins need weapons as is and with their new quarterback Justin Fields stepping into the starting job, why not give him the best big target in college football? Pitts was absolutely outstanding this season for the Gators and you could see the effect he had on the offense by his absence in the blowout loss to Oklahoma. He’s the best tight end in this class and he’ll be gone in the first round, probably sooner than later.

19. Washington Football Team

Kyle Trask, Quarterback
It took a while, but the next quarterback finally came down the line for Washington. The quarterback issues for this franchise have been well documented with Dwayne Haskins being cut and Alex Smith returning. While Smith is a nice story, his play this season isn’t good enough for this defense and there’s rumors of retirement anyways. Trask was one of the best quarterbacks in the country this season and though that was partially a product of his environment, I think he can lead a pro franchise. This team is ready to take the next step into being one of the best in the NFL and Trask panning out would get them there.

20. Chicago Bears

Jalen Mayfield, Offensive Tackle
Chicago is another team with well documented quarterback issues and one that could grab a passer in the first round, but with Trask and company already gone, they should shore up that terrible offensive line. Part of the reason Mitch Trubisky never panned out was because the line was a disaster for every snap he took. There are some good pieces along the line, but the tackle positions are not worthy of a playoff team. Jalen Mayfield is a good prospect and will immediately be an upgrade on the left side. I’m not saying the Bears shouldn’t take a quarterback, just that there’s better options later in the draft.

21. Jacksonville Jaguars via Los Angeles Rams

Liam Eichenburg, Offensive Tackle
The Jags are getting their guy in Trevor Lawrence and the next step to take is protecting him. Getting him weapons is another key issue, but D.J. Chark will suffice for now. Liam Eichenburg is one of the best tackles in the nation and was the best player on one of the best lines in the country. Keeping your number one pick upright is more important than getting him weapons because if they aren’t upright, they can’t hit those weapons anyways. Eichenberg may not be the best tackle in the country but he’s good enough to start immediately. Most Notre Dame linemen are.

22. Indianapolis Colts

Shane Buechele, Quarterback
There’s a bit of a consensus that Philip Rivers is going to retire and Indianapolis will be left with quarterback issues. Jacoby Brissett could be resigned and given the starting job, but he might not fit the mold enough to warrant the big bucks. Shane Buechele is an absolute gunslinger and should be seen as a discount Zach Wilson. He has very good accuracy on a big arm and is used to passing a lot. The Colts need to up their offense a bit and with the offensive and defensive lines already in good shape, getting a quarterback to pair with last year’s picks is a natural next step.

23. Cleveland Browns

Joseph Ossai, EDGE
Cleveland’s defense being shattered by injuries and Covid was the only reason they weren’t a top three team in the AFC. They have the offense as they’ve proven, so making sure the defense is in tip top shape will be vital. They essentially have two top tier rookies coming in already with this pick and Grant Delpit, and if Myles Garrett can get back to his old self, this could be the AFC’s best defense and maybe best team. Ossai will make this line absolutely overwhelming.

24. Tennessee Titans

Jay Tufele, Defensive Tackle
While there’s not Javon Kinlaw or Derrick Brown in this season’s draft, Christian Barmore and Jay Tufele are true first round prospects who will get looks. The Titans nearly made the Super Bowl last season and they have a shot at making another run this year. Another presence on the inside in the form of Tufele will make this team even tougher to handle. As long as Tannehill keeps producing on offense they can just focus on the defensive side of things.

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Travis Etienne, Running Back
I’m not really sure that this is the direction that Tampa wants to go in this draft, but there’s a possible need that could be filled with Etienne. If you don’t know who Travis Etienne is at this point I would like to welcome you to the sport of football. He’s one of the best running backs to ever play a college down and hold the ACC record for yards. Putting him in this offense would make it a cheat code and a unit more reliable at taking pressure off an aging Tom Brady and irregular passing game.

26. Baltimore Ravens

Elijah Moore, Wide Receiver
Elijah Moore wasn’t projected to be one of the best wide receivers in the country this season, but he ended up that way anyways. He’s a physical freak with great skills and the ability to step into an NFL team, especially this one, and be the top target right away. Moore is smaller but can do anything that the Ravens need, including block downfield for Jackson when he runs. This team is desperate for another offensive weapon to help their MVP and Moore is that option.

27. New York Jets via Seattle

Jaycee Horn, Cornerback
The problems that the Jets have are beginning to be resolved with Zach Wilson being taken at quarterback, so now it’s time to fill the second most position on the field at corner. Jaycee Horn probably isn’t a generational talent but he’s certainly one of the best corners in this draft and one that should be able to start in that secondary right away. He’s not going to take away parts of the field like Surtain or Farley can, but he should be able to lock down guys in the AFC East with some regularity.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers

Samuel Cosmi, Offensive Tackle
The Steelers were one of the best teams in the NFL until they hit a road bump that sent them spiraling for the last four games of the season. A lot of people speculated that the Steelers were on the edge of falling off before that point, but part of the reason that drop off happened was because of the offensive line. Grabbing a new tackle to begin the rebuild of that line would be the best idea for an old team, but one that still can produce wins. Cosmi should be a good player for a long time and will fit well into the organization that Mike Tomlin runs.

29. New Orleans Saints

Zaven Collins, Linebacker
Micah Parsons is the best linebacker in the country, but Zaven Collins was one of the most impactful to take the field this season as he helped Tulsa become one of the premier programs in the G5. New Orleans has a few good options at linebacker but adding Collins will ensure that they’re safe at that position at a cheap level for a few years. I don’t think there’s a huge need on offense at the moment and while they could pick elsewhere on the defensive side, Collins is the best choice at the moment.

30. Buffalo Bills

Eric Stokes, Georgia
Stokes might be a reach here for Buffalo, another team that can go in a number of ways, but grabbing him won’t be a bad pick if that is their choice. The Bills proved that their offense is for real by posting 56 points on a good Miami defense, so getting the defense nailed down is the next step. Stokes is good in coverage and will be a reliable option in the secondary. Trevon Moehrig could be another option here to solidify the secondary, but unless the Bills announce what position they’re targeting, I have no idea what they’re thinking for this pick.

31. Green Bay Packers

Rondale Moore, Wide Receiver
I hate that I’m writing this as a joint Purdue and Chicago Bears fan, but the Packers need to get Aaron Rodgers more top tier weapons. He proved today that he’s still a great quarterback and can lead a team to be the best in the NFL, so helping him stay young and healthy is the right choice. Assuming David Bakhtiari gets back next season, adding another very good receiver is the right choice. Moore is one of the best wide receivers and playmakers in the draft and his ability to run any route from any position makes him invaluable and would make Green Bay’s offense unbeatable.

32. Kansas City Chiefs

Alijah Vera-Tucker, Guard
The Chiefs shocked everyone in the draft last year by making one of the most sensible yet overlooked picks of the draft by taking Clyde Edwards-Helaire. This year they don’t need to add weapons, but grabbing help along the line with another hyphenated star out of USC is the best thing they can do. The line is very good already but keeping it young and fresh with Vera-Tucker, one of the best interior linemen in college football, will help keep Mahomes upright and this unprecedented offense in tip-top shape.

Other Draft Material

Draft Big Board
Mock Draft 1.0
Mock Draft 3.0: All Offense
Mock Draft 3.1: All Defense
Mock Draft 4.0
Mock Draft 5.0
Quarterback Rankings
Running Back Rankings
Wide Receiver Rankings
Tight End Rankings
Offensive Tackle Rankings
Guard Rankings
Center Rankings
Defensive Tackle Rankings
EDGE Rankings
Outside Linebacker Rankings
Inside Linebacker Rankings
Cornerback Rankings
Safety Rankings