I couldn't wait to get involved in mock draft season any longer. After spending the past two months since Super Bowl LV talking to scouts and executives about the prospects, and especially after seeing the holes plugged by teams in free agency, I'm ready to throw my hat into the mock ring led by Ryan Wilson.
A couple of things. First of all, if you want to trade up with me for a quarterback, it's going to cost more than what the trade-value chart says. These aren't picks for picks when you're talking QBs. It's picks for franchise future. That costs more, and you'll see that reflected below.
My Patriots mock trade with the Falcons is a perfect example as New England paid a steep price to move up to No. 4 in order to land its quarterback, which capped an unprecedented run on quarterbacks with the first four picks.
Secondly, if I were heading a draft this year, I would look to amass as much 2022 draft capital as possible. The lack of a combine, the questions about player health, the lack of game tape, the inability for your scouts to see prospects in person throughout the season and all other COVID-related restrictions would not breed confidence in my evaluation process. I would use the ego and aggressiveness of other teams/GMs against them, selling my 2021 picks for future selections where, in a post-COVID world, we'll be back to normal (hopefully). Obviously I would draft some players in 2021, but I would use this year's draft to "win" next year's draft and, in some ways, win both years.
But because I doubt GMs feel the same way I do since it's not my job on the line, and because it's difficult to tell your entire staff that you're virtually ignoring their months of hard work in a pandemic to try it all again next year, you won't see much of that below.
And if you don't like who I mocked to your team, please send all complaints to the aforementioned Ryan Wilson.
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Round 1 - Pick 2
From Miami Dolphins
Round 1 - Pick 3
Mac Jones QB
Alabama • 6'3" / 214 lbs
No other pick has me this conflicted. He is not gifted enough to trade away two future firsts to move up to get, and that sort of gamble means you're betting on him having the brains of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. But the Niners, as Kyle Shanahan has noted, have little reason to provide a smokescreen since we all know what picks 1 and 2 will be.
Mock Trade from Atlanta Falcons
Round 1 - Pick 4
Trey Lance QB
North Dakota State • 6'4" / 226 lbs
Trade details: Patriots give up first-rounder (No. 15) and second-rounder (No. 46), plus 2022 first- and third-round picks and a 2023 first-rounder. Patriots have been aggressive all offseason so why stop now? Lance has the brains to match the arm, and Bill Belichick liked what he saw from how Josh McDaniels opened up the playbook last year for a more physically capable quarterback. The Pats can start Cam Newton and develop Lance at his own pace. A big jump for the most dominant team of the 21st century requires a high price to pay.
Round 1 - Pick 5
Penei Sewell OL
Oregon • 6'6" / 325 lbs
Joe Burrow excelled at LSU because of incredible talent at skill positions but also because he had forever and a day to throw the ball. This year's class is incredibly deep at receiver, but you're not finding a blindside protector of anywhere close to Sewell's value later on. Getting Riley Reiff in free agency on a one-year deal absolutely should not preclude Cincinnati from continuing to protect Burrow.
From Philadelphia Eagles
Round 1 - Pick 6
Mock Trade from Detroit Lions
Round 1 - Pick 7
Ohio State • 6'3" / 227 lbs
Trade details: Broncos give up first-rounder (No. 9), third-rounder (No. 71) and sixth-rounder (No. 191). Denver was never going into training camp without providing real competition for Drew Lock. New GM George Paton trades up here because he's not entirely sure the Panthers won't take Fields since they have not yet picked up Sam Darnold's fifth-year option (which they appear to be waiting until after the draft to do for a reason ... hmmm).
Round 1 - Pick 8
LSU • 6'1" / 200 lbs
The urge to reunite Chase with OC Joe Brady is too strong to ignore for Carolina in this mock. It's not a need for Carolina (that's OL, DL and CB) but Matt Rhule has promised they'll take the best player available. Panthers ultimately couldn't turn down the best wide receiver in the draft, especially after losing Curtis Samuel and having Robby Anderson in the final year of his deal.
Mock Trade from Denver Broncos
Round 1 - Pick 9
Alabama • 5'10" / 182 lbs
I badly wanted to trade down again in this mock with new GM Brad Holmes, considering his track record with the Rams. Ultimately, though, Jared Goff needs someone to throw to other than Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman at wideout.
Round 1 - Pick 10
Alabama • 6'2" / 202 lbs
This fit seems so obvious I almost don't want to make it. Surtain is the best corner in an athletically gifted class, and he has the pedigree to excel with the star on his helmet in Dan Quinn's defense.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Jaelan Phillips EDGE
Miami (FL) • 6'5" / 266 lbs
You'll hear Giants GM Dave Gettleman is more open to trading back nowadays, but he still hasn't done it and I'm not sure he will. The Giants failed in their pursuit of Leonard Floyd after going crazy everywhere else in free agency, and they lock up the best edge rusher in this year's class.
From Miami Dolphins
Round 1 - Pick 12
Alabama • 6'1" / 175 lbs
Howie Roseman has taken his lumps the past few months, and many of them were warranted. His decision to trade down from No. 6 to 12 seemed curious at the time, but he still gets the third-best receiver in the draft in Smith to go with former Bama QB Jalen Hurts.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Northwestern • 6'3" / 305 lbs
The Chargers need an offensive tackle and Slater is by far the best option. It's coincidence he's available in this mock because I could have slotted him several spots higher a couple of times. His tape against Chase Young from 2019 is as good as it gets.
Mock Trade from Minnesota Vikings
Round 1 - Pick 14
Jaycee Horn CB
South Carolina • 6'1" / 205 lbs
Trade details: Raiders give up first-rounder (No. 17) and third-rounder (No. 79). Perhaps no team is more unpredictable in the draft than the Raiders. Of course they need a right tackle, but the defense needs more help than anything. Do you think Jon Gruden is going to turn away from a 6-foot-1, 205-pound cornerback with NFL bloodlines???
Mock Trade from New England Patriots
Round 1 - Pick 15
Penn State • 6'3" / 245 lbs
He has the talent to nearly justify staying at No. 4 and picking him. In this mock, Parsons slides to the middle of the first round and goes to a team needing to fill a defense full of holes. Parsons has uncommon speed for coverage and rushing the passer, two things Atlanta really needs.
Round 1 - Pick 16
Florida • 5'11" / 194 lbs
No excuses for Kyler Murray and head coach Kliff Kingsbury in 2021. I could easily see the Cards going corner here but Toney's speed and versatility should make the Arizona brass salivate. Cardinals need a burner, and they'll get it with Toney's sub-4.40 speed.
Mock Trade from Las Vegas Raiders
Round 1 - Pick 17
Virginia Tech • 6'5" / 314 lbs
The Vikings only had one pick in the top 75 before this trade and Rick Spielman needed more. Darrisaw provides great value to Minnesota because he can play tackle and guard, and they need both positions.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Round 1 - Pick 19
Notre Dame • 6'1" / 216 lbs
WFT looked into the linebacker market in free agency and couldn't find anyone at the right price. It was never going to mortgage the future to trade up into the top 10, so head coach Ron Rivera can sit and take the best linebacker or safety available. Naturally, Rivera takes the hybrid linebacker to add to that top five defense.
Round 1 - Pick 20
USC • 6'4" / 315 lbs
Complicating matters for the Bears is the strong possibility Ryan Pace acts out of desperation in this draft and does something none of us anticipate. But if Pace stays here and actually trusts Andy Dalton is QB1, there's enough receiver talent that you can well justify getting Vera-Tucker at No. 20, start him at guard and move him to tackle if/when needed.
Round 1 - Pick 21
Azeez Ojulari EDGE
Georgia • 6'3" / 240 lbs
Colts GM Chris Ballard didn't let Darius Leonard's size get in the way of his football evaluation, and he won't let it happen here with the 6-foot-2, 249-pound Ojulari. He seemed to get better as the season went along and put together the best pass-rush season in the entire SEC in 2020. Hopefully for the Colts, this breaks a long streak of missing on edge rushers.
Round 1 - Pick 22
Elijah Moore WR
Ole Miss • 5'8" / 185 lbs
There's a need at corner that I think the Titans are trusting Kristian Fulton to step up and into this season. Adding even more speed to the receiver position is an attractive option, and they know Moore well after drafting A.J. Brown out of Oxford just two years ago.
From Seattle Seahawks
Round 1 - Pick 23
Oklahoma State • 6'6" / 320 lbs
Douglas hit a home run last year with Mekhi Becton and saw how well Zach Wilson operated behind a stout BYU line. Jenkins can come in and immediately compete with George Fant for the right tackle position, and he has experience playing guard, too.
Mock Trade from Pittsburgh Steelers
Round 1 - Pick 24
Northwestern • 6'1" / 190 lbs
Trade details: Packers give up first-rounder (No. 29) and third-rounder (No. 92) for No. 24 and fourth-rounder (No. 140). Packers GM Brian Gutekunst has moved in the first round in each of the past three years so why not make it four? With the Browns needing a corner at 26, the Packers trade with another storied franchise for the best CB remaining after a down year from Kevin King.
From Los Angeles Rams
Round 1 - Pick 25
Alabama • 6'5" / 310 lbs
With 10 picks, including the first one of the second round, I can absolutely see the Jags trading up a few spots and getting their (second) guy of the draft. Meyer wants to establish the line of scrimmage, so I can see him adding to the defensive line here where there's value in the late-first in taking a defensive tackle like Barmore, who absolutely turned it on in the College Football Playoff.
Round 1 - Pick 26
Florida State • 5'10" / 184 lbs
His size could force him into the slot, but Samuel was a PBU machine at Florida State with 33 in his career. The Browns seem stacked at corner, but Troy Hill's contract is really a one-year deal with an out next season, and they'll be taking care of their EDGE need with the impending signing of Jadeveon Clowney.
Round 1 - Pick 27
TCU • 6'2" / 208 lbs
Ravens GM Eric DeCosta loves trading back but … say it with me … look at the value here. It's the best safety in the draft available at No. 27. He can play both safety positions to add to Wink Martindale's diverse blitz packages, and he threw up 33 reps on the bench, so you know he can make the tackles in the box.
Round 1 - Pick 28
Caleb Farley CB
Virginia Tech • 6'2" / 207 lbs
Farley was my CB1 in January, but as other corners tested well and Farley underwent another back procedure, he dropped to the bottom of the first. That's great news for the Saints, who lost Janoris Jenkins in free agency.
Mock Trade from Green Bay Packers
Round 1 - Pick 29
Alabama • 6'6" / 312 lbs
We could name any number of needs for Pittsburgh heading into the draft but let's address the obvious one first. Leatherwood can play guard or tackle but has the physical tools to settle in at tackle over the long haul if that's what's needed.
Round 1 - Pick 30
Clemson • 5'10" / 205 lbs
It feels like a corner or edge rusher here would be a reach for the Bills even though they're needs. I didn't plan to have a running back go in the first round, but Buffalo needs a dynamic three-down back who has the speed to be a home-run hitter and the hands to be Josh Allen's safety valve.
Round 1 - Pick 31
Odafe Oweh EDGE
Penn State • 6'5" / 253 lbs
Zero sacks in 171 pass-rush snaps last season scares me on Oweh, but it's really hard to turn away from his remarkable pro day. You don't want to get too caught up in the athletic testing but … my goodness. Perhaps Steve Spagnuolo can unlock his potential and unleash him on the AFC West.
Round 1 - Pick 32
Alabama • 6'6" / 325 lbs
The Bucs could do anything here, including auctioning the pick to whichever team wants the sixth QB in the draft (Davis Mills.) Because they return all their starters and have no holes, this pick can be all about depth and all about 2022. Dickerson has an injury history, no doubt, but he also allowed just one sack in 800 pass-block snaps the past two years and played all five positions in college.