Not everyone out there is a Jaguars fan, I get it -- even here in "Trevor Town, USA!"
So, as First Coast News continues to get you ready for the 2021 NFL Draft on ABC25, here is my lone set of first-round projections for the rest of the league.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
It’s not a question of whether Trevor is the pick or not. Also a pretty safe bet he’ll be settling in Ponte Vedra Beach in the coming weeks and months. The real debate is whether his brother, Chase, is a Riverside or Jacksonville Beach guy.
2. New York Jets
Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
“Finding the next Patrick Mahomes” is the new “finding the next Sean McVay,” isn’t it? As our quarterback analyst and 6Points Jacksonville owner Denny Thompson told me: “Wilson is either going to throw a million touchdowns or become the next Jameis Winston.” P.S. for all we know, Wilson’s new offensive coordinator -- Matt LaFleur’s younger brother, Mike -- could be the next McVay, too.
3. San Francisco 49ers
Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Hey now! Let the games begin! Turns out Kyle Shanahan wasn’t blowing smoke when he said Jimmy Garoppolo would be the 49ers starting quarterback this year after all! Lance is easily the most polarizing of the quarterback prospects (18 career games will do that), but he’s also the top candidate for a “redshirt” year. After mixed reviews at his first Pro Day, Shanahan personally set Lance up with his good friend, quarterbacks coach John Beck. Justin Fields already works with Beck, so there is also a connection there. Worth noting: the betting-favorite to be drafted by the 49ers -- Mac Jones -- has not been connected to Beck. Just connecting some dots! At just 20-years old, Lance would be the first, true “project” Shanahan has voluntarily taken on, not had forced upon him (Johnny Manziel, Matt Schaub, etc.).
4. Atlanta Falcons
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
The Falcons’ phone will be ringing off the hook with prospective trade partners regardless of who the 49ers select at No. 3. All signs point to Atlanta sticking with soon-to-be 36-year old Matt Ryan under center this fall. But the hometown kid is too talented to resist (and probably should have gone No. 2 overall, but that’s a story for another time). Ryan does carry a $40.525M dead money number for 2022 and $15.6M in 2023. The Falcons can’t part ways with Ryan without taking on some serious baggage. But how quickly we forget that Aaron Rodgers sat for three years behind Brett Favre. Jimmy G sat behind Tom Brady. Patrick Mahomes sat for a year, too! It is not a bad thing if you’re Atlanta to redshirt Fields (especially looking at the quarterback crop in the 2022 NFL Draft, a much more underwhelming contingent). Rest assured though: if Ryan and the Falcons struggle, fans will be calling for Fields sooner rather than later.
5. Cincinnati Bengals
Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Add a weapon or continue to protect Joe Burrow? Cincinnati really can’t go wrong -- and with deep wide receiver and offensive tackle classes, they could also be good candidates to trade down. However, sitting at No. 5, they’ll have their pick of the litter. Sewell has long been the top-prospect at his position. We joke that the “David Carr Effect” (or “Andrew Luck Effect,” for that matter) aren’t real, but they are. Protect your investment, especially with Burrow coming off a massive knee injury.
6. Miami Dolphins
JaMarr Chase, WR, LSU
The Dolphins traded back up to No. 6 for a reason: they, too, want their pick of the litter. They don’t want to be left with whichever receiver is left, even if that receiver ends up being a former teammate and go-to target of Tua Tagovailoa. Chase, like Sewell, has long been the top-prospect at his position. Pitts is still on the board and is an option as well, but the Dolphins like Mike Gesicki. They have way more questions at receiver.
7. *TRADE* Dallas Cowboys
Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Something something “when Jerry Jones sets his mind to something” something something. The Cowboys posted a video of Jones’ phone call with Pitts earlier this month, and the hype train has left the station. While the Cowboys have a host of needs on defense (only amplified with Sean Lee’s retirement Monday), Jones can’t resist the “unicorn.” If the Cowboys were to play a game this week, Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz are their starting tight ends. Not bad, but also not Pitts.
8. *TRADE* New England Patriots
Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Did you know Nick Saban and Bill Belichick are best friends?! Cam Newton is the Patriots’ starter in 2021. But Cam Newton hasn’t played a full season since 2017. While his athleticism has been knocked, Jones has been regarded as the most “Day One-ready” quarterback in the Draft not named Trevor Lawrence. He’s a thinker whose mind makes up for athletic flaws. Belichick had success with a quarterback just like that from 2001-2020.
9. Denver Broncos
Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
John Elway is no longer calling the shots, and yet misfortune continues to befall the Broncos. In this scenario, they try to trade up for a quarterback not once but twice and come up short. After giving Drew Locke a host of weapons via the 2020 NFL Draft, first-year GM George Paton focuses on the offensive line via the 2021 NFL Draft. All the chips have been pushed to the center of the table: if Locke struggles this season, the experiment is over and Denver is 100-percent in the QB Sweepstakes next spring. I do think they’ll still bring in a veteran quarterback after the Draft even if they draft one later on this weekend; Gardner Minshew is 1-0 at Mile High Stadium and can throw that ball over them mountains….
10. Detroit Lions
Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Detroit trades back, picks up picks, and still lands its alpha wide receiver. Boom. Time to bite another kneecap. This is much more of a rebuilding project than the Lions are letting on; with just six picks as of now in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Lions will be prime candidates to trade back.
11. New York Giants
Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
(Holy mackerel, I just realized it happened: for the first time in the common era, not a single defensive player was selected in the Top-10 of the NFL Draft). That ends with the Giants and Belichick disciple Joe Judge. This is “take the best defensive player available,” and iron will sharpen iron. Parsons would pair with veteran Blake Martinez in the middle of the Giants’ defense, while offering pass-rushing and coverage capabilities. His pro comp is Myles Jack, so, for the Jaguars fans reading this: think Jack and Joe Schobert.
12. Philadelphia Eagles
Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
From JJ Arcega-Whiteside to Jalen Reagor, the Eagles haven’t exactly hit on first-round wide receivers of late. So while receiver may be their biggest need, going with a surefire talent like Surtain will, at the very least, help alleviate any lingering PTSD Eagles fans have from drafts past. Surtain is an instant, impact starter with a championship pedigree (a National Champion as well as the son of a former NFL stand-out). Oddschecker has Surtain as the odds-on favorite to land with Philly.
For more information on Oddschecker, visit their website at www.oddschecker.com.
13. Los Angeles Chargers
Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
So there was allegedly a social media snafu from the Chargers’ official account Monday where they said they'd traded up to No. 11 and then deleted it? While I do think Tom Telesco has no qualms about trading up to “get his guy” on the offensive line, this mock draft scenario works in the Chargers’ favor. While they miss out on Sewell and Slater, they get their franchise left tackle who is ready to start Day One. The Chargers currently have one left tackle on the roster. Darrisaw could also play right tackle should LA need.
14. Minnesota Vikings
Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
The Yannick Ngakoue Experiment failed. No one knows if Danielle Hunter will report to training camp without signing a new contract. Head coach Mike Zimmer is a defensive guy. The Vikings ranked 28th in sacks last season. They’re going defense in the first-round (don’t count out a quarterback on Day Two though). Phillips has scheme versatility and can play with a hand-in-the-dirt or standing up.
15. Carolina Panthers
Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
The Panthers already have eight picks in this year’s Draft, but pick up even more through their aforementioned trade with New England. The Panthers have capable corners on the roster (two former Jaguars in A.J. Bouye and Rashaan Melvin, in fact). But they don’t have an emotional leader. Horn is being molded to become the next Jalen Ramsey with less of the baggage (sorry if this triggers you, Jaguars fans).
16. *TRADE* Baltimore Ravens
Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Well, well, well. So much for Eric DeCosta being “insulted” by the criticism of the Ravens’ current wide receivers. Hollywood Brown has flashed. Sammy Watkins has durability concerns. 2020 Draft picks Miles Boykin and Devin Duvernay have yet to establish themselves. Devonta would be an instant upgrade. Even if it’s not for the Heisman Trophy winner, I still could see Baltimore using the capital gained from the Orlando Brown trade to climb even higher in the Draft for an elite talent.
17. Las Vegas Raiders
Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
Jon Gruden and friends are up to something in Sin City because they literally blew up their offensive line this off-season. The biggest hole is at right tackle after trading Trent Brown to New England. It’s a deep offensive tackle class, so this has got to be part of the plan, right? Right? Who am I kidding. Gruden is probably going to trade into the Top-10 and take Kyle Trask.
18. *TRADE* Cleveland Browns
Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
Truth be told, the Browns really don’t have a ton of gaping holes on defense. They have former, No. 1 overall picks on each end of their defensive line in Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney. Their secondary is stacked with former first and second round talent in Denzel Ward, Grant Delpit, and Greedy Williams (plus they just signed John Johnson). Their linebacking corp was average following the departure of Joe Schobert last off-season. They get an instant upgrade with do-it-all, chess piece Zaven Collins. They know Washington is looking at Collins or JOK and know they have to trade-up to get this year’s Bronko Nagurski Award winner.
19. Washington Football Team
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
After seeing all five quarterbacks go in the Top-10 and the other “defensive chess piece” in this year’s class go at No. 18, this one is a no brainer for Ron Rivera and friends. Their front-four might be the best in the NFC, but they, just like Cleveland, lack an alpha in that second-tier. Imagine having that defensive line… and then a fifth blitzer in JOK. Owusu-Koramoah can cover tight ends, running backs, and some receivers in coverage and could bail out Washington’s rebuilt secondary if need be, too. I’m also noticing I’ve mocked several players to their hometown team… and wouldn’t you know: WFT is thinking the same way!
20. Chicago Bears
Alijah Vera-Tucker, IOL, USC
Loved this read from The Athletic’s Adam Jahns about the Bears history with the No. 20 overall pick. Long story short: they haven’t been in this position since 2013, when they surprised many draft analysts and selected guard Kyle Long. He was the first guard drafted by Chicago in the first-round since 1960. It would prove to be one of the best Draft selections the Bears have made the last 20 years. Long made the Pro Bowl his first three seasons in the league and was an instant-impact player. The Bears hope lightning strikes the same place twice when they take another guard with immediate impact ability in Vera-Tucker. Their offensive line has been injury-plagued the past few seasons, and Vera-Tucker would offer depth and stability.
21. Indianapolis Colts
Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
It might not be Cosmi. It might be a fringe, Round One prospect like Notre Dame’s Liam Eichenberg. But it’s going to be a tackle. Carson Wentz/Jalen Hurts/ the Eagles were the most sacked team in 2020. Thankfully, Wentz’s new team has Quenton Nelson and his gang of merry-men -- but the elder statesmen of that line, left tackle Anthony Castonzo, retired this offseason. Cosmi teams up with Nelson on the left-side, and Indy (and Wentz) sleep a bit sounder at night.
22. Tennessee Titans
Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Sounds simple, probably won’t be: despite not living up to his first-round hype, the Titans must replace Corey Davis. He was their second leading receiver last season. They also lost Jonnu Smith (second in touchdowns, third in receiving yards) to free agency. Signing the odd-man-out from the Rams (sorry, Josh Reynolds) doesn’t replace that sort of production. And while this is a deep receiver class and the Titans could dip back into this pool later on, they want “their guy.” Bateman’s ability to stretch the field will allow AJ Brown to continue being the all-around threat that he has been since entering the league.
23. New York Jets
Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Armed with 10 picks in this year’s Draft, Joe Douglas can afford to take a risk like Farley. After opting-out of the 2020 season, Farley had surgery on his back in March following a weight-lifting accident. He’s going to fall out of the Top-20 because of it; it’s just a matter of if the Jets feel comfortable enough to take him. With Bless Austin and Bryce Hall slated to be their Week One starters at outside corner as of this writing, the Jets cannot afford to take a redshirt candidate at their second-biggest position of need. The fact that Douglas didn’t address it in free agency suggests they have a plan to go corner with their second, first-round pick. Thought about Greg Newsome II here as well.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
I know. Y’all hate taking running backs early. Good thing Najee Harris is more than a running back. He had 11 receiving touchdowns in college. Harris had 43 receptions in 2020 alone. Drafting Harris would provide a dimension to the Steelers’ run-game they haven’t seen since (gasp) Le’Veon Bell in 2017. Not coincidentally, that’s when this offense was arguably at its best. If Ben Roethlisberger is really going to be the starter in 2021, Pittsburgh needs to surround him with as many weapons at EVERY position that they can.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars
Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
Wait! He’s still available? Yes sir: after the Vikings went with high-upside Jaelan Phillips, Paye is just the second Edge rusher to be drafted in this scenario. I outlined my reasons for the selection in Monday’s Mock Draft for the Jaguars. Even if it’s not Paye, I’d put money on No. 25 being an Edge rusher. Both Peter King and Albert Breer hinted at Jayson Oweh in their Monday columns. After several viewers reached out and made their case, I’m also inclined to think this next guy might also be a candidate….
26. Miami Dolphins
Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
Brian Flores’ defense caught many by surprise in 2020. Now imagine if they had an electric, designated pass rusher named Ojulari at that outside linebacker spot? They had 44 sacks in 2020: they’d have even more. Ojulari had 9.5 sacks and 12.5 TFL in ten games last fall (all the Jaguars fans complaining about Oweh and Paye’s lack of production? Turn your attention to my man in black-and-red). The thing I really liked that a friend (and Dawgs fan) told me: “there are probably 10 games during his career where [Ojulari] made the deciding play on defense to either get the ball back or win the game. He has a gift for it.” Considering Ojulari only played 23 games in college… that’s saying something.
27. Arizona Cardinals
Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
The Cardinals enter the Draft with just five selections, two of which are in the seventh round. While they don’t have a ton of holes, they could still use some more game-changing players. Starting outside corners Malcolm Butler and Robert Alford are 31 and 32 years old, respectively. Time to start thinking about the next-step. The Cardinals also get bailed out by so many offensive players being taken off the board early, leading to Newsome falling to No. 27.
28. New Orleans Saints
Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
Sorry to those Jaguars fans who were hoping he’d fall to the second round. After losing Malcolm Brown to the Jaguars and Sheldon Rankins to the Jets, the Saints have serious questions about the interior of their defensive line (which if my memory serves me, they almost never do). 2020 rookie Malcolm Roach played in just nine games. He’s projected to start alongside David Onyemata (who did have an awesome 2020) as of now. Barmore offers the versatility to play the 3-technique or 1-technique, providing New Orleans with quality depth if he really isn’t ready to start Week One -- as the pundits are now suddenly saying.
29. Green Bay Packers
Joe Tryon, EDGE, Washington
One of my favorite pass-rushers in the entire class. Tryon opted out of 2020, so I won’t be surprised if he’s still hanging around mid-way through Round Two because teams quite simply don’t know what he’s capable of. Eight sacks and 12.5 TFL for a middle-of-the-road, 8-5 Washington team is impressive to me, no matter how you slice it. Some pundits are concerned about his size (under 265 lbs). But I remember another guy they called "undersized" -- Yannick Ngakoue -- having quite a bit of success in the NFL. While Jaguars fans panic about Urban Meyer selecting Jayson Oweh based off raw athleticism.... what if it’s a smoke screen and Tryon is really the guy? Dude posted a 9.29 Relative Athletic Score. That’s 44th best among defensive ends since 1987 (Josh Allen is hanging around that Top-50, too).
Also, I am an agent of chaos and want to see what happens when the Packers don’t draft a wide receiver in the first round for a second straight year. I love me some full-time Aaron Rodgers, Jeopardy host.
30. Buffalo Bills
Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
Another team with not a ton of holes, so they can go in a variety of ways here. One area the Bills are lacking is speed in the secondary, and Stokes ran a 4.25 40-yard dash at his Pro Day. I’m a big fan of Tre’Davious White on one corner, but he needs a yin to his yang. The team re-signed Levi Wallace to a one-year deal and seventh-round pick Dane Jackson would be the projected back-up. Stokes played in 31 games for Kirby Smart and has the pedigree and experience to make an impact as a starter or depth player Year One.
31. Baltimore Ravens
Landon Dickerson, OL, Alabama
True story: I had Dickerson’s teammate, Alex Leatherwood, originally slotted here when the Kansas City Chiefs owned this pick five days ago. I debated keeping Leatherwood as the pick … for the same reasons I like Dickerson here: versatility and ability to play multiple positions along the line. I then remembered long-time center Matt Skura left Baltimore for Miami this off-season, and that solidified why Dickerson needed to be the pick here. As of now, the Ravens have options along the line. After signing Kevin Zietler to play right guard, they can slide Bradley Bozeman to center. They can start reserve Patrick Mekari at center. Tyree Phillips can play basically anywhere. Dickerson would give them another option at center or left guard. I did find it fascinating (and why I won’t be surprised if the Ravens go tackle here) that, when I ran these scenarios past my Ravens-fan cousin this past weekend, he noted how Baltimore hasn’t had a true, iconic right tackle in the last 10-15 years. With such a deep OT class, that could also be in consideration here.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State
The rich get richer because they can afford this type of project (Oweh had zero sacks in seven games last season and this has rubbed some fans the wrong way -- despite 6.5 TFL in the same seven games). While Oweh has the luxury in Tampa to not be “the guy” early on, Jason Pierre-Paul is 32. Ndamukong Suh is 34. William Gholston is 29. I’m not saying the window is closing -- I am sure Tom Brady is sharing his Secret Stuff with his teammates in the "Battle Against Father Time" -- but the Bucs would be wise to start investing in young pass rushers now, rather than later.
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Well, that was fun! Let's see how we do this week!
You can watch all three rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft LIVE on ABC25 April 29-May 1, 2021.
Hit me up on Twitter at @MiaOBrienTV or firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts as we get set for the 2021 NFL Draft.