One of the benefits of coaching at the Senior Bowl is that you get access to players that the other 30 teams do not. That's never been more important than this year, given that the pandemic continues to affect not only the regular season but also draft season. So while Matt Rhule was hoping to win more than five games in his debut, he used the week in Mobile, Ala., to get a good look at the players in attendance, and perhaps no more important than quarterback Mac Jones, who picked up during practice right where he left off following Alabama's 2020 season.
Some folks will think that No. 8 overall is too high for Jones but, well, it's not. He's a really good player who lacks athleticism but excels in every other area.
In other QB news, the Lions, who traded Matthew Stafford to the Rams for two first-rounders, a third-rounder and Jared Goff, choose not to take another quarterback with the No. 7 overall pick. Instead, they get one of the best wideouts in the class to help jumpstart an offense that struggled through the 2020 campaign.
Keep reading to see how the rest of the first round unfolds.
Round 1 - Pick 1
Clemson • Jr • 6'6" / 220 lbs
There are few certainties in life but we feel pretty confident that the Jags are taking Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 overall pick. (If Houston and Jacksonville swing a deal for Deshaun Watson, disregard, though we don't think that'll happen either.)
Round 1 - Pick 2
Zach Wilson QB
BYU • Jr • 6'3" / 210 lbs
Zach Wilson does a lot of things well, and had a breakout 2020 season, but do the Jets think he's worth the No. 2 overall pick? If not, they could choose to stick with Sam Darnold and fill another position of need (offensive line, for example), or trade out of the pick altogether and look for a QB later in Round 1.
From Houston Texans
Round 1 - Pick 3
Round 1 - Pick 4
Ohio State • Jr • 6'3" / 228 lbs
Fields has special physical tools but he's not yet NFL ready -- at least for a starting job. Matt Ryan will likely return for 2021, which means that Fields can learn from the bench before taking over the job in '22.
Round 1 - Pick 5
Northwestern • Jr • 6'3" / 305 lbs
Same as last week. We were tempted to go with a receiver here but the WR class is a relatively deep one and Slater remains one of our favorite players in this class. He was solid at tackle in 2019 (he opted out in 2020), and has the versatility to play guard and even center. And at the end of the day, priority No. 1 is protecting Joe Burrow.
Round 1 - Pick 7
Alabama • Jr • 6'1" / 175 lbs
So Matthew Stafford is headed for the Rams and in exchange, the Lions get a slew of draft picks and Jared Goff. Is Goff the long-term answer? Almost certainly not. In fact, Detroit could still choose to take a QB here but for now we have them targeting the best WR in this class, Smith, who will add depth on a roster in which both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones are headed for free agency.
Round 1 - Pick 8
Mac Jones QB
Alabama • Jr • 6'3" / 214 lbs
The Panthers need a quarterback and what better option than the one who starred during Senior Bowl week with Carolina's coaching staff watching closely? Jones continued to impress, even though an ankle injury kept him out of the Senior Bowl game, and there's every reason to believe he's destined to hear his name called in Round 1.
Round 1 - Pick 9
Round 1 - Pick 10
Kwity Paye DL
Michigan • Sr • 6'4" / 272 lbs
The Cowboys season clearly didn't go as expected and much of that can be traced to a ton of injuries, starting with Dak Prescott. And despite being in the NFC East playoff race until late, that doesn't change the fact that the pass rush needs to get better and Paye, who has improved greatly from the 2019 season, is a freak athlete and legit first-round talent.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Kyle Pitts TE
Florida • Jr • 6'6" / 240 lbs
We love Pitts and all he brings to an offense but we also understand that Giants fans might have some trepidation about taking a tight end in Round 1 after the Evan Engram experiment didn't exactly go as planned.
Round 1 - Pick 12
Trey Lance QB
NFL Draft • Soph • 6'4" / 226 lbs
Kyle Shanahan said in recent weeks that Jimmy Garoppolo is his QB for 2021 but that doesn't mean the team can't (or won't) plan for the future. And now that Matthew Stafford is headed for L.A., San Francisco turns to the draft. Trey Lance has the athleticism and arm strength to be a legit NFL QB, he only lacks experience. But if anyone can get the most out of his abilities it's Shanahan, who did just that with Robert Griffin III during his rookie year in Washington back in 2012.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Gregory Rousseau EDGE
Miami (FL) • Soph • 6'7" / 265 lbs
Rousseau opted out of the 2020 season but he racked up 15.5 sacks last season. For the Chargers, Melvin Ingram is 31 years old and will be a free agent in a few weeks barring a new deal.
Round 1 - Pick 14
Alabama • Soph • 6'5" / 310 lbs
The Vikings need help along the defensive line and in the secondary as well, but with two edge rushers already off the board, addressing the interior with Barmore, our DT1, makes sense in the middle of Round 1. Barmore flashed throughout the '20 season but got red hot over Alabama's final four games.
Round 1 - Pick 16
Round 1 - Pick 17
Miami (FL) • Jr • 6'5" / 266 lbs
The Raiders managed just 21 sacks in 2020 (that ranked 25th overall) and Phillips is a high-energy tone-setter off the edge. There are injury questions (he retired from the game in 2018) but if he's healthy, he's a terror.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Penn State • Jr • 6'3" / 244 lbs
Does Parsons fall this far? Only if there are off-field concerns. In terms of his on-field abilities, he's a top-5 pick (and we've had him going in the top 5 in previous mock drafts). Talking to folks around the league, there is little concern that Parsons opted out for the 2020 season because he is such a special talent. Kamu Grugier-Hill and Elandon Roberts are soon-to-be free agents and Parsons has the type of freakish athleticism that we've come to expect in NFL linebackers -- Kenneth Murray, Patrick Queen, Devin White and Devin Bush just to name first-rounders from the last two drafts -- and he'll impact the Dolphins 'D' from Day 1.
Round 1 - Pick 19
Virginia Tech • Jr • 6'5" / 314 lbs
Football Team obviously needs a long-term answer at QB after dumping Dwayne Haskins, but after winning the division and making the playoffs they'll likely have to trade up to get one. For now they're staying put upgrading the o-line with one one the most athletic lineman in this class.
Round 1 - Pick 20
USC • Jr • 6'4" / 315 lbs
The Bears might have played their way into the status quo; that playoff appearance meant the return of Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy while Mitchell Trubisky remains a question mark. And if QB isn't an immediate need, fixing the o-line would be a good place to start. Vera-Tucker moved from guard to tackle in 2020 and would be a likely Day 1 starter.
Round 1 - Pick 21
Florida • Sr • 6'0" / 193 lbs
The Colts need a QB and a left tackle but with TY Hilton and Zach Pascal headed for free agency, they'll need to restock the roster at WR too. Toney is an elite playmaker coming off a huge 2020 season and an impressive week of practice at the Senior Bowl.
Round 1 - Pick 22
Washington • Jr • 6'3" / 293 lbs
Onwuzurike opted out in 2020 but flashed consistently during his one day of practice at the Senior Bowl. He needs to play with more consistency but he has the type of potential that could translate to a difference-maker in the middle of the defense.
From Seattle Seahawks
Round 1 - Pick 23
Georgia • Soph • 6'3" / 240 lbs
Defensive tackle Quinnen Williams led the Jets with seven sacks, and Tarell Basham was next with three. Put another way: New York needs to get better at getting after the QB. Ojulari was arguably the best defender on a Georgia unit that will have a lot of guys hear their name called this April.
Round 1 - Pick 24
From Los Angeles Rams
Round 1 - Pick 25
Round 1 - Pick 26
Tulsa • Jr • 6'4" / 260 lbs
For the season Collins had four sacks, four interceptions (including two pick-sixes) and two forced fumbles. At 6-foot-4, 260 pounds, he looks more like a defensive end but moves with the fluidity of the modern day inside linebackers that have become so prevalent around the league.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Jayson Oweh EDGE
Penn State • Soph • 6'5" / 253 lbs
Yannick Ngakoue and Matt Judon will be free agents in a few weeks and even if one (or both) returns the Ravens need to get better off the edge. Oweh has all the physical tools to make the jump to the NFL he just needs more experience.
Round 1 - Pick 28
Notre Dame • Jr • 6'1" / 215 lbs
Owusu-Koramoah is listed as a linebacker but you can find him all over the field -- and he may eventually end up at safety at the next level. He can come off the edge and has the athleticism, speed and change of direction to be an asset in coverage,
Round 1 - Pick 29
Round 1 - Pick 30
Najee Harris RB
Alabama • Sr • 6'2" / 230 lbs
Do the Bills *need* a running back. Well, no. They have Devin Singletary and Zack Moss but Harris is a dual threat who can get yards on his own, both as a runner and a receiver. And if we've learned anything from the 2020 season, Josh Allen elevates his game when he's surrounded by playmakers.
Round 1 - Pick 31
Iowa • Jr • 6'3" / 305 lbs
Nixon is an explosive interior defensive lineman who has a knack for finding his way into the backfield and being disruptive vs. both the pass and the run. And while he won't replace Ndamukong Suh, adding depth for the soon-to-be free agent makes sense here.
Round 1 - Pick 32
Purdue • Soph • 5'9" / 180 lbs
The Chiefs didn't need Clyde Edwards-Helaire a year ago and they certainly don't need Rondale Moore here, but what's better than one Tyreek Hill? Two of them. Moore isn't Hill -- no one is -- but he flashes many of the same explosive traits, and with Sammy Watkins, DeMarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle headed for free agency, the Chiefs could be looking for a fresh crop of wideouts to run roughshod over the rest of the league.