Guest Contributor: Hunter Donelson
Back for my annual NFL Mock Draft. Before we dive in, I want to clarify a few guidelines of my draft-creating process:
- I do not make these to be conventional, I like my selections to be different but realistic. You may see some picks that do not follow what the national media is going along with.
- Unless it is a straight lock or there has been a report about a team selecting a certain player at their slot, I pick more based on personal preference than prediction of what teams will do. Nobody can truly predict the draft. There’s a lot of reports that swirl around the media and I pick and choose what to believe and what not to believe.
- Trades are hard to predict and if you get one wrong, the entire mock draft can be thrown off. That is where the “this is what I would do” situation plays in. I predict trades that would make sense, not always trades that are the most likely to actually happen.
1.. Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Lawrence is the most sought after quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck in 2012. Jacksonville gets a generational talent to continue building their great foundation of youth. We’ve waited three years for this, let’s move on.
2. New York Jets – Zach Wilson, QB, Brigham Young
Wilson seems like a lock for the second-overall pick, but it is a little bit of a risky one. Wilson’s collegiate competition is concerning—0-5 with 1 touchdown and 7 interceptions against teams with 10+ wins—but he does have a lot of arm talent and potential. Personally I would choose Fields here but the Jets seem locked in on Wilson.
3. San Francisco 49ers (via MIA) – Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
This is one of the biggest question marks of the draft. Mac Jones or Trey Lance? I don’t think that you move all the way up to number three to draft a guy like Mac Jones, that’s more of a selection you make if he just so happens to be there at number twelve. You trade up to number three for a game-changer, and that’s Trey Lance.
4. Atlanta Falcons – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
I said the third pick was one of the biggest question marks of the draft but this one is the biggest. Atlanta has three options; draft Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, draft a quarterback for the future, or trade down for a ton of assets. The Falcons championship window is closed, their cap space is a disaster and it’s time to start over. Fields is the second-best quarterback in this draft and the Falcons likely won’t have a pick this high anytime soon so quarterback should be the answer.
5. Cincinnati Bengals – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Louisiana State
Cincinnati needs to protect Joe Burrow but they can do that later in the draft with a deep offensive line class. Pitts could easily be the pick here but Burrow is pushing them to draft his former teammate Ja’Marr Chase. The Bengals need a new weapon on the outside and Chase is the best of the bunch.
6. Miami Dolphins (via PHI) – Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
The Dolphins like to run a lot of 12 personnel and doing that with Kyle Pitts and Mike Gesicki would be incredible. Every young quarterback like Tua Tagovailoa can develop exponentially with a great tight end like Pitts. The 6’6”, 245lb, 4.44 forty-yard dash runner is the best non-quarterback prospect in this draft and the Dolphins could utilize him well.
TRADE: Chargers reunite former Oregon teammates
Ahhh… my first of four trades here in the first round. It may cost the Chargers a little bit of a pretty penny to move onto the top-10 but the Lions should most definitely be a trade-down team. Detroit has a lot of holes to fill and they can do so with more draft capital. Meanwhile, the Chargers need more protection for young superstar Justin Herbert, specifically his blindside.
7. Los Angeles Chargers (via DET) – Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Sewell is the best offensive lineman in this class and a generational left tackle. The Chargers have his former quarterback Justin Herbert and a big hole on his blindside. I think Los Angeles will move up and get these two guys back on the field together to create a great OT-QB tandem for many years to come.
8. Carolina Panthers – Rashawn Slater, OT Northwestern
Carolina is no longer in need of a quarterback after trading for Sam Darnold, but what they do need is some protection for their new quarterback. Slater is right up there with Sewell in terms of talent, but there are some question marks on whether or not he can excel at offensive tackle at the next level because of his length. Either way, the Panthers need offensive tackle and interior offensive line so they could move him to guard and be just fine.
TRADE: Kyler Murray gets new weapon
We’ve got trade #2 of my mock draft. The Cardinals are reportedly looking to move up for a wide receiver to put on the opposite side of DeAndre Hopkins and boy, would this duo be deadly.
9. Arizona Cardinals (via DEN) – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
No disrespect to Heisman winner DeVonta Smith, but Waddle is my WR2 in this draft class. I think he does a lot of things at an elite level. Waddle is the best run-after-catch receiver in this draft and can really stretch the field for Kyler Murray. He still needs to polish up his route running but having him on the opposite side to take attention away from DeAndre Hopkins would really open up this Cardinals offense. On the other hand, the Broncos don’t have a player that could really maximize the value of this pick and new general manager George Paton is all about stockpiling draft picks. The more you have, the more you hit.
10. Dallas Cowboys – Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
I’ve had Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II at no. 10 for a long time, but the more I look into it the more I could see Jerry Jones and new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s infatuation with Jaycee Horn’s athleticism and aggressiveness. If it’s not a flashy offensive weapon for Jerry Jones you better believe it will be a flashy defensive weapon.
11. New York Giants – Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
There’s been reports that the Giants love Parsons and what he could bring to their defense. With Slater off the board and wide receiver Kenny Golladay signed, the Giants can turn their attention elsewhere with this pick. Parsons is the best defensive player in this draft and will bring so much versatility to this defense.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (via SF) – Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Philadelphia is trying to jump the Cowboys to get the cornerback of their choice, but in this mock draft they don’t need to. I think no matter which corner the Cowboys take, the other one will be available for Philly to snag. Surtain II could be the best defensive back in this class but it’s a close race between him and Horn.
13. Detroit Lions (via LAC) – DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
This couldn’t work out more perfectly for the Lions. Not only did they trade down to get more draft capital, they ended up with one of the best receiver prospects and likely someone they would have taken at no. 7 had they kept the pick. TDetroit has a new quarterback in Jared Goff but both receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones left. They have a huge hole at wide receiver to fill and Smith would be a huge addition.
14. Minnesota Vikings – Jaelen Phillips, EDGE, Miami (FL)
The Vikings could go offensive line here but they need edge rushers too. Typically Minnesota doesn’t draft pass rushers in the first round and perhaps that’s why they need one. Phillips is a defensive freak and would probably be a top-5 pick if it weren’t for injuries in college. His three concussions and wrist injury are a little concerning but it could be a massive payout if he’s a healthy NFL player.
TRADE: Bears move up for top-5 QB
Trade #3 and this one is probably the easiest one to explain. Bears head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace are on the hot hot seat and veteran quarterback Andy Dalton simply won’t cut it. The Patriots are always looking to trade back and the Bears are going to be desperate.
15. Chicago Bears (via NE) – Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
It’s unbelievable to me that Jones could go as high as number three to the 49ers. I don’t dislike him or his talent but 99% of people probably wouldn’t even rank him in their top-3 quarterbacks in this draft. However, I think the fit in Chicago might not be so bad afterall. Jones has great accuracy and makes great reads, something a Bears quarterback has never had. It’s a massive upgrade from an aging Andy Dalton and it could potentially save Nagy and Pace their jobs.
16. Denver Broncos (via ARI) – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
After the trade down with the Cardinals the Broncos still land a defensive stud in Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. J.O.K. is a great scheme fit in Denver’s defense and will provide versatility up the middle. The more holes this Broncos team can fill, the more they could become a contender. Now all they need is a solid young quarterback (and no, Teddy Bridgewater is not the answer).
17. Las Vegas Raiders – Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
This may come as a surprise by this just seems like such a Jon Gruden move. We saw the Raiders draft Clelin Farrell fourth-overall in 2019 and that hasn’t worked out very much for them but, Barmore has a tremendous amount of talent. If it weren’t for reports of his coachability issues then he could potentially go a little higher. The Raiders fill positional holes and they don’t care what pick they do it with.
18. Miami Dolphins – Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
Paye is the edge rusher that I like most in this class. He has great size, a quick first step, and a great bend. The Dolphins traded away Shaq Lawson which means they’ll likely be looking for a pass rusher in the draft. After getting Pitts at no. 6 the Dolphins could be shaping up a great draft class this year by adding Paye.
19. Washington Football Team – Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
Washington has a need at linebacker but I don’t think there is one that fits their scheme and is good enough for a first round selection. With that being said, they also need some work on the offensive line. Darrisaw has a great frame and a heavy anchor but he needs to touch up on some footwork stuff and hand usage. He’s a great athlete and a top offensive tackle prospect.
20. New England Patriots (via CHI) – Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
I can’t think of a more perfect fit for Bill Belichick’s defense than Zaven Collins. His athleticism, versatility, and football I.Q. screams New England Patriots football. They can utilize him as a pass rusher or drop him back in coverage and Belichick absolutely loves guys that can do that.
TRADE: Saints move up for potential defensive stud
The fourth and final trade of this first round is made by one of the more aggressive teams in this draft, the New Orleans Saints. They need two main things: cornerback and wide receiver. There is a guy that’s available with this pick who has one of the highest ceilings of any defensive player and the Saints love him. The Colts can still address some needs while picking up a few more draft picks in the process.
21. New Orleans Saints (via IND) – Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Farley is coming off of his second back surgery this offseason which has caused him to fall on people’s boards. I like him a lot on the field but it’s just too big of a risk for a top team to pick him. The Saints, however, don’t seem to care. Farley is the best ball hawk in the class and has great size, speed, and fluidity. It’s a good fit for the Saints and if he can stay healthy then him and Marshon Lattimore will be terror for opposing offenses.
22. Tennessee Titans – Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Much like the Saints, the Titans need to add to their secondary and their offensive weapons. Bateman is WR4 in this draft but I wouldn’t rank him much farther down the line from the other three. He is an incredible route runner, especially when he is forced to improvise. His 6’2”, 210lb frame is ideal for the next level and he even has 4.43 speed. Like I said, there’s not a large gap between him and the other three receivers in this class.
23. New York Jets (via SEA) – Alijah Vera-Tucker, IOL, Southern California
Now that the Jets drafted their franchise quarterback (hopefully), they can start giving him weapons and protection. Although the defense is lacking, the development of Zach Wilson has to be the top priority. Vera-Tucker is the best interior offensive lineman but even has the versatility to move to the outside when needed.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
The draft’s worst-kept secret is that the Steelers really like Najee Harris and what he brings to the table. I’m not sure what kind of impact he can have in his first year with that shaky of an offensive line but I think he will be able to take some pressure off of verteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR) – Trevon Moehrig, S, Texas Christian
Jacksonville might look to help out Trevor Lawrence with these next few picks but I think they have enough in the second round to do so. What they can get with this pick is a safety that can move around anywhere on the field, kind of like Tyrann Mathieu. The Jaguars haven’t addressed the safety position in quite some time but it could bring real value to their defense if they can snag Moehrig.
26. Cleveland Browns – Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
I thought the Browns were going to have a great cornerback tandem with Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams but Williams can’t stay healthy enough to be a reliable option. Newsome II could end up going to the Titans at no. 22 but in this mock draft I’ll put him in Cleveland. This would add to a very up-and-coming defense that just signed Jadeveon Clowney and John Johnson III this offseason.
27. Baltimore Ravens – Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, Louisiana State
If the Ravens don’t use one of their two first round picks to get Lamar Jackson some weapons then I don’t know if they ever will. They signed Sammy Watkins this offseason but he is unreliable. I like Marshall with this pick because of his ability to run all kinds of different routes and his size. Baltimore doesn’t need another speedster like Hollywood Brown, what they need is a consistent, big-bodied receiver that Jackson can rely on.
28. Indianapolis Colts (via NO) – Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
This may be a bit low for Teven Jenkins but it’s a great fit. Even if the Colts don’t trade back with New Orleans then I would still have them drafting Jenkins at no. 21. Anthony Castonzo retired this offseason and now they have a hole on the offensive line. Jenkins has a lot of power and toughness and that’s what the Colts like to see on their line.
29. Green Bay Packers – Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky
Another year, another draft where the Packers don’t spend a first round pick on a weapon for Aaron Rodgers. Let me get something straight, they don’t do it because they don’t need to. Aaron Rodgers’s weapons are not the reason why this team hasn’t gotten over the hump, it’s the awful rushing defense. Jamin Davis is one of my favorite linebackers in the class and can quickly replace lost free agent Christian Kirksey.
30. Buffalo Bills – Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State
I like Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari more than Oweh but I like the scheme fit that Oweh has with the Bills more than the talent differential. Oweh is a freak athlete but has a ton of work to do in terms of technique and recognition. A team like the Bills can use him situationally while he develops and once he develops he could explode onto the scene.
31. Baltimore Ravens (via KC) – Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
Baltimore lost both Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue this offseason and now they are in dire need of some help off the edge. Ojulari could be the best pass rusher in the class under Baltimore’s scheme and would most likely turn into a 10+ sacks per year kind of guy for them.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M
I bet you didn’t see this one coming. Mond is very underrated among all the quarterbacks this year but he is a well-polished prospect. Mond has some things to work on like making proper reads and footwork but mechanically everything looks great. The Buccaneers have Tom Brady for now but if they want this young core to continue contending after Brady is gone then they’ll have to start looking for a quarterback now.
33. Jacksonville Jaguars – Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
I mentioned Jacksonville getting weapons for Lawrence earlier and that’s what I expect them to do in the second round starting with Toney.
34. New York Jets – Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
The Jets running backs are awful and they’re going to need a guy that Wilson can rely on to take some of the pressure away. Etienne would be valuable as a pass catcher.
35. Atlanta Falcons – Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami (FL)
Rousseau could easily go first round but it’s tough to gauge the interest. He has some things that need development but he was great in college.
36. Miami Dolphins (via HOU) – Liam Eichenburg, OT, Notre Dame
Eichenburg played left tackle at Notre Dame and most are expecting a shift to right tackle because of his slow slide and lack of length but Tua is left-handed so he can stay where he’s more comfortable and the Dolphins don’t have to worry about poor blindside blocking.
37. Philadelphia Eagles – Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
Philadelphia could go with a receiver here but Bolton is too good to pass up and they have a hole at linebacker.
38. Cincinnati Bengals – Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
Here’s the protection Burrow needs. Although the Bengals won’t be done here this definitely helps them out.
39. Carolina Panthers – Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State
Samuel Jr. is the most underrated defensive player in this draft class. He was a monster at Florida State and the Panthers can continue building a great young defense.
40. Denver Broncos – Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
Denver doesn’t have a lot of holes but they could use the depth at offensive tackle. Radunz needs to size up a little more but he’s a great prospect for the second round.
41. Detroit Lions – Cameron McGrone, LB, Michigan
Linebacker for Detroit is miserable. I like McGrone’s fit with the Lions, he’s physical and can get sideline-to-sideline.
42. New York Giants – Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
This is a first round pick that I think will fall into the second. Moore could go as high as no. 22 to the Titans but I think they’ll go a different direction. After getting Parsons in the first, the Giants should look for a reliable slot receiver.
43. San Francisco 49ers – Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse
The 49ers aren’t bringing back Richard Sherman and they were able to re-sign Jason Verrett but they need some youth at cornerback.
44. Dallas Cowboys – Levi Owuzurike, DT, Washington
I could see edge rusher or offensive lineman here but the Dallas run defense was awful last season and they need some size in the middle.
45. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
After checking the boxes on a star quarterback, a great secondary player, and a receiving threat, the only one left to check is some offensive line help.
46. New England Patriots – Dyami Brown, WR, North Carolina
Brown is a deep threat that can play both outside and in the slot. The Patriots signed receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne but that’s not enough.
47. Detroit Lions (via LAC) – Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
The Lions continue adding to the defense after taking DeVonta Smith in the first. Stokes has a lot of potential with great size and speed, he was one of the best corners in the SEC.
48. Las Vegas Raiders – Richie Grant, S, Central Florida
Defense and offensive line is what the Raiders should be drafting. Gruden and the Raiders seem very high on their backup offensive lineman so we may not see them draft any until the mid-rounds. Grant is the second-best safety on my board and the Raiders need secondary players.
49. Denver Broncos (via ARI) – Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina
Phillip Lindsay was let go and Melvin Gordon only has one year left on his contract. Williams lacks some speed but he has great vision, balance, and power.
50. Miami Dolphins – Amon-Ra St.Brown, WR, Southern California
I really like St. Brown, I think he could be considered a steal as a second round pick. The Dolphins need some guys that can move around the outside but they make look to the defensive side of the ball after getting Pitts at no. 6.
51. Washington Football Team – Davis Mills, QB, Stanford
Mills didn’t play very much at all last season but I think he has a lot of potential. It’s a small sample size but with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Taylor Heinicke as your best options at quarterback it’s worth it.
52. New England Patriots (via CHI) – Milton Williams, DT, Louisiana Tech
Milton Williams is a great player. The Patriots need a guy up the middle and this would be a great pick for Belichick.
53. Indianapolis Colts – Joe Tryon, EDGE, Texas Christian
After getting an offensive lineman in the first round I would expect a lot of defensive players to be on the Colts’ draft cards. Tryon could go as high as a first rounder but he’s the type to slip to day two.
54. Tennessee Titans – Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
Adebo hasn’t gotten talked about very much. They could use a defensive playmaker like him after going WR in round one.
55. Pittsburgh Steelers – Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
There’s so much offensive line talent in this class that it really just depends on who teams value. This is another one that I could see going in the first round. Leatherwood has been very consistent at Alabama and that’s what Pittsburgh needs.
56. Seattle Seahawks – Payton Turner, EDGE, Houston
There’s a lot of underrated talent in the second round. Turner had a great season at Houston and the Seahawks need as many defenders as they can get in this draft.
57. Los Angeles Rams – Baron Browning, LB, Ohio State
Ever since Corey Littleton left Los Angeles they have needed to fill that void. I like Browning a lot, super physical, quick, play recognition looks good. He’s well-polished.
58. Kansas City Chiefs (via BAL) – Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas
Ossai has potential but is a raw prospect. I think Spagnuolo can develop him well to play opposite Frank Clark.
59. Cleveland Browns – Dayvion Nixon, DT, Iowa
The Browns need to continue building their defensive line. They need a guy up the middle. Nixon is one of the best in this thin interior defensive line class.
60. Indianapolis Colts (via NO) – Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse
Cisco can be risky. He has a history of injuries but he is well worth it to the Colts if he stays healthy.
61. Green Bay Packers – Jevon Holland, DB, Oregon
Holland can play cornerback or safety. The Packers will most likely need him more as a nickelback then anything and I think that’s where he can excel.
62. Buffalo Bills – Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
This is a bit low for Moore but I’m just not too sure how many teams will be looking for receivers in the second round. I could see as many as five or six taken or as little as two or three. We’ll see. Anyways, the Bills need a slot guy that isn’t 30+ years old.
63. Kansas City Chiefs – Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
Moses was strangely one of the best linebackers in the country but isn’t a big prospect on teams’ boards. The Chiefs drafted Willie Gay last year and he played well but I think they’ll need another linebacker as Anthony Hitchens is likely released next season.
64. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson
Carman played a ton of snaps in college protecting one of the best quarterback prospects of all-time. Let’s see if he can handle protecting the greatest of all-time.