A year ago by the scouting combine I could have told you where every quarterback was going. Now, I wouldn't have had every pick correct -- I had Daniel Jones pegged to the Giants with their second first-round pick and not their first -- but my intel was spot on, and I had strong sources to trust.
This year. Um. Not so much.
The quarterbacks, beyond Joe Burrow, are a crapshoot. Teams have not tipped their hand, in large part because with no private visits and no private dinners with owners and no private workouts, there were fewer ways for them to tip their hand and more constrained paths of information. Good luck to anyone nailing where the QBs go in the first round this year, let alone the rest of a mock draft.
Yet still I persist. Here it goes.
My one and only mock (though it is possible that by the time you read this I will have put my editors through a re-write or two as I hear different things).
Round 1 - Pick 2
Round 1 - Pick 3
Jeff Okudah CB
Ohio State • 6'1" / 202 lbs
The GMs I talk to are split between whether they take Okudah or Derrick Brown -- and the Lions are split themselves -- but I am going to throw the dart in Okudah's direction following the Darius Slay trade.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Iowa • 6'5" / 320 lbs
Could be Andrew Thomas here or another tackle. And they love Isaiah Simmons, too. And I've heard a strong buzz about K'Lavon Chaisson in recent days. But playing a hunch that Wirfs' elite wrestling background and superb leverage plays well with old-school GM Dave Gettleman. I've also heard a lot of buzz about them trading down and someone -- maybe Jacksonville? -- trading up for someone (maybe Tua?).
Round 1 - Pick 5
Georgia • 6'5" / 315 lbs
Plug-and-play left tackle. The Fins love him, and the Browns love him, and GMs I talk to who aren't picking in the top 10 all tell me he is the best ready-to-start pure left tackle in the draft. Maybe they move to No. 3 to get him. I see them drafting a QB -- just not Tua, and just not yet.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Oregon • 6'6" / 236 lbs
Few teams have had a worse time with team surgeons and medial teams and trainers in recent years than the always-injured Chargers. They are always very guarded with their pick, but I could see them being risk-averse with Tua, and taking the strapping passer here. Last time they took an Oregon QB, it worked out pretty well.
Round 1 - Pick 7
Auburn • Soph • 6'5" / 320 lbs
Poised to be a big-time interior disruptor for the long-term. Panthers need help all over the defense and might as well start in the trenches. Simmons is a clear consideration here, and Okudah would be, too.
Round 1 - Pick 9
Florida • 6'1" / 204 lbs
I came this close to mocking Tua here, in the same way Josh Allen fell to their laps in the top 10 a year ago. And I could see the owner wanting him. I went Henderson because they have dealt away Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye in rapid succession and need an impact corner badly.
Mock Trade from Cleveland Browns
Round 1 - Pick 10
CeeDee Lamb WR
Oklahoma • Soph • 6'2" / 189 lbs
John Elway really wants another weapon to make his Drew Lock gamble pay off, and I don't believe he is willing to concede defeat on his Garett Bolles debacle at left tackle. Could be any of the top three WRs in this scenario.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Alabama • 6'4" / 312 lbs
Joe Douglas was a part of prior franchises that built through the trenches. He's already made some Band-Aid moves for O-linemen but desperately needs to better protect Sam Darnold. Could be a WR here.
Mock Trade from San Francisco 49ers
Round 1 - Pick 13
Alabama • Soph • 6'1" / 217 lbs
Maybe this happens at 10. Maybe it doesn't happen at all. It's not a typical Belichick move, but these are not typical Patriots times. No one will have better info on the injured QB, and Belichick has made big trades with the 49ers before involving a QB. San Francisco is eager to get back, and Bill has draft capital.
Round 1 - Pick 14
Mekhi Becton OL
Louisville • 6'7" / 364 lbs
This freak athlete joins Bruce Arians' Super Bowl or bust offense. This pick boosts the protection for Tom Brady and adds an absolute mauler in the run game, where the Bucs need to make big gains.
Mock Trade from Denver Broncos
Round 1 - Pick 15
K'Lavon Chaisson EDGE
LSU • 6'3" / 254 lbs
They just might finally land Trent Williams from Washington in trade, and if they do, this would make a lot of sense to replace Olivier Vernon and save them a boatload of money. That defense needs more bite.
Round 1 - Pick 16
Round 1 - Pick 17
Southern Illinois • 6'3" / 220 lbs
They are all over Chaisson and badly need more edge presence. If he is there, I figure they grab him. They also still need safety help and have been dabbling with drafting one this high for years. Chinn checks every box possible.
From Pittsburgh Steelers
Round 1 - Pick 18
Alabama • 6'0" / 190 lbs
They could go Jordan Love here, because they are super high on him, but I think they could wait for that. Maybe Sean Payton takes him, or someone trades up. But landing a stud receiver here fills a big need no matter who the QB is.
Mock Trade from New England Patriots
Round 1 - Pick 23
Mock Trade from Seattle Seahawks
Round 1 - Pick 27
Auburn • Soph • 6'3" / 303 lbs
After trading down from No. 13 earlier, the 49ers deal up from No. 31 to address the void created by the trade of DeForest Buckner. The Seahawks never want to use their first pick anyway.
Round 1 - Pick 28
Oklahoma • 6'2" / 241 lbs
The Ravens have a history with Oklahoma players, and his character is off the charts. Yet I make this pick without great conviction because I could definitely see them trading down, or taking linebacker Jordyn Brooks here instead.
Round 1 - Pick 29
Georgia • 6'6" / 350 lbs
The Titans have done a ton of work on linemen, and it could be Ezra Cleveland out of Boise State here, too. Wilson could be the replacement for Jack Conklin, who they lost in free agency. I hear they really like Robert Hunt as well.
Round 1 - Pick 30
Texas Tech • 6'0" / 240 lbs
Blazing speed, four years of production and a serious wingspan to wrap up ball carriers. Has some metrics not that unlike Ray Lewis -- both are around 6-foot -- and the Packers were ready to pounce on Ray a long time ago before Ozzie Newsome traded up. Could be another interesting game of chicken between the Ravens and Packers this time around for linebackers again.
Mock Trade from San Francisco 49ers
Round 1 - Pick 31
A.J. Epenesa EDGE
Iowa • Soph • 6'6" / 260 lbs
Epenesa could be a very interesting piece in their defense, playing the edge but also working inside and running some twists and stunts with him there. They have a history of tacking D-linemen kinda high -- though with mixed results.
Round 1 - Pick 32
Robert Hunt OL
Louisiana • Soph • 6'6" / 327 lbs
Hunt is going to go much higher than his original projections and has some elite athleticism and quick feet and massive frame. He could be an impact guard. I could see them taking Michigan center Cesar Ruiz here as well, or trading down.