It's been a few weeks since we've had three quarterbacks going in Round 1, but here we are in our latest mock draft. It's not that we think three QBs should go, it's more that NFL teams desperate to upgrade the position have proven they'll take chances on a player who, in reality, is a 50/50 proposition to even be a replacement-level starter.
Not surprisingly, we have Ole Miss' Matt Corral and Nevada's Carson Strong among the top 32 picks and both are legit first-round talents. Corral is athletic but raw; Strong is the savviest passer in this class whose draft fate could be determined by a knee injury he suffered back in high school. And then there's Sam Howell, who finds his way back into Round 1, primarily because the team we have taking him -- the Lions -- needs to turn things around. The great irony, of course, is that Howell has drawn comparisons to Matthew Stafford, though in our mind, best-case scenario is that he becomes 75-80 percent of Stafford in the NFL.
Alright, let's get to all 32 picks.
One other thing, and this is important: the draft order below was determined using SportsLine's Super Bowl odds but in reverse order. We know folks are going to be very angry about why we have their team picking so high but it's not our fault. These are your team's current odds of winning a Lombardi Trophy.
Round 1 - Pick 1
Oregon • Soph • 6'5" / 258 lbs
Thibodeaux has battled an ankle injury early in the season but if Saturday's performance against UCLA is any indication, he's just about unstoppable when he's on the field -- to the point that it's almost unfair. He finished with nine tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble in Oregon's win.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Michigan • Sr • 6'6" / 265 lbs
If the Texans move on from Deshaun Watson, they'll be in line for a boatload of high-round picks but Hutchinson makes sense here either way. He's had a huge season for the Wolverines and immediately improves Houston's defense against both the pass and the run.
Round 1 - Pick 3
LSU • Jr • 6'1" / 195 lbs
Jeffrey Okudah's career has been marred by injuries and while we liked Ifeatu Melifonwu coming out of Syracuse, he's injured, too. Put it another way: You can never have enough good young corners and Stingley is a CB1.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Evan Neal OL
Alabama • Jr • 6'7" / 350 lbs
The Jets have to protect Zach Wilson -- this should be the mantra to begin every draft meeting the team has. Neal is an athletic marvel who has excelled at several O-line positions for the Crimson Tide.
Round 1 - Pick 5
Texas A&M • Jr • 6'4" / 290 lbs
Originally a defensive end, Leal, at 6-foot-4, 290, has the versatility and athleticism to play up and down the line, which should make him even an even more attractive option in New York where we're all familiar with Dave Gettleman's affinity for big guys.
From Miami Dolphins
Round 1 - Pick 6
Notre Dame • Jr • 6'4" / 219 lbs
Marcus Epps is the only Eagles free safety under contract after this season and, Hamilton, who suffered a knee injury vs. USC on Saturday, is expected to be OK, according to Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. As for what he brings to the field, Hamilton is a 6-4, 220-pound version of Ed Reed, which makes him a Day 1 impact player.
Round 1 - Pick 7
Matt Corral QB
Ole Miss • Jr • 6'2" / 205 lbs
Ryan Fitzpatrick is hurt and Taylor Heinicke has struggled with consistency. Corral, meanwhile, has been spectacular this season for Ole Miss -- he has the tools to be a Lamar Jackson/Trey Lance/Josh Allen-type quarterback but he's still incredibly raw and will likely need some time to grow into the starting role at the next level.
From Chicago Bears
Round 1 - Pick 8
Iowa • Jr • 6'3" / 290 lbs
Linderbaum is one of the best offensive linemen in the country, and while No. 8 overall might seem high for a center, a) Linderbaum is that good, b) the Giants lost Nick Gates to injury and c) his replacement, Billy Price, has struggled.
Round 1 - Pick 9
Clemson • Jr • 6'0" / 200 lbs
A.J. Terrell and Isaiah Oliver have been solid in coverage this year but Oliver has battled injuries and he's also in the final year of his deal. Booth could end up being one of the best cornerbacks to come out of Clemson in recent years, and he's proven that time and again during the '21 season.
Round 1 - Pick 10
Kaiir Elam CB
Florida • Jr • 6'2" / 196 lbs
The Eagles are on track for three (!) first-round picks, which means there's a great opportunity to address their defense. Elam has the size (6-foot-2, 190) and athleticism to be one of the best draft-eligible corners in '21 and he has the ability to be a consistent physical playmaking presence in the secondary.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Kenyon Green OL
Texas A&M • Jr • 6'4" / 325 lbs
Garett Bolles has had his issues at times, but Bobby Massie, who is in the final year of his deal, has been a liability on the right side. Green, who played left guard last season and has played every offensive position during his career, brings both nastiness and versatility to Denver.
Round 1 - Pick 12
Washington • Jr • 6'7" / 310 lbs
The Panthers' O-line has been inconsistent in both run- and pass-blocking this season, and Kirkland's athleticism makes him an interesting middle-of-the-first-round option for teams looking to improve up front.
From Seattle Seahawks
Round 1 - Pick 13
Purdue • Jr • 6'4" / 275 lbs
The Jets' defense has been below replacement level so far this season and, well, that's not bad relative to the offense. But Karlaftis adds another dimension to the defensive line. Injuries and the pandemic saw him play limited snaps in '20 but Karlaftis was nearly impossible to stop in '19 when he recorded 17 TFLs and had 7.5 sacks. He's been really good through the first half of the '21 campaign.
Round 1 - Pick 14
Ohio State • Jr • 6'0" / 192 lbs
The Pats need to upgrade the O-line and the secondary, but the team also needs to give Mac Jones a legit downfield threat, something this offense has lacked for years. Wilson and Chris Olave have been unstoppable for Ohio State and those traits will transfer to the next level.
From Indianapolis Colts
Round 1 - Pick 15
Round 1 - Pick 16
Texas A&M • Jr • 6'5" / 255 lbs
Wydermyer was one of Kellen Mond's favorite targets in 2020 for a reason: he's reliable and almost always open. In Cincy, the offense is all set at wide receiver but only Drew Sample is under contract after the season.
Round 1 - Pick 17
Nevada • Jr • 6'4" / 215 lbs
Carson Strong is our QB1 but with one pretty big asterisk: His draft status is all going to come down to the medicals on a knee injury he suffered in high school, which is why we have Matt Corral going ahead of him in this mock draft. That said, Strong is the most consistent QB in this draft class and if healthy, he could eventually be the first passer off the board. In Pittsburgh, Big Ben is in his final year, in part because he can't throw the ball down the field.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Georgia • Sr • 6'0" / 190 lbs
The team parted ways with 2020 first-rounder Jeff Gladney, and Patrick Peterson is on a one-year deal. Wide receiver could also be an option here but stockpiling defensive backs is never a bad strategy. Kendrick was in the conversation as a first-round pick in the 2021 draft before returning to Clemson and then entering the transfer portal. He's now at Georgia and a strong season will likely make him one of the first defensive backs selected next spring.
From San Francisco 49ers
Round 1 - Pick 20
Chris Olave WR
Ohio State • Sr • 6'1" / 188 lbs
The Dolphins may look to upgrade their QB position through a trade (Deshaun Watson appears to be the front-runner), which allows them to focus on other positions. DeVante Parker and Jaylen Waddle are under contract for the foreseeable future but Will Fuller and Albert Wilson could be free agents in the spring. Olave, meanwhile, is an excellent route runner and a threat at all three levels.
Round 1 - Pick 21
Drake London WR
USC • Jr • 6'5" / 210 lbs
London, who is one of the few bright spots in a disappointing USC season, isn't going to run a 4.3 but he's a high-point-catch machine who can take over games. In related news, he had 15 catches for 171 yards in the Trojans' loss to Notre Dame on Saturday night.
Round 1 - Pick 23
Arkansas • Jr • 6'3" / 225 lbs
Only receivers Keenan Allen and rookie Josh Palmer are under contract after the season, and if Mike Williams isn't in the Chargers' long-term plans, Burks wouldn't be a bad consolation prize.
Round 1 - Pick 24
South Carolina • Sr • 6'4" / 260 lbs
The Browns don't have a lot of holes so they use their first-round pick to bolster the pass rush. Enagbare is a twitched-up athlete who will only get better with more reps and added muscle.
Round 1 - Pick 25
Arkansas • Soph • 5'10" / 200 lbs
The Cowboys' defense has been a pleasant surprise, for sure, but Damontae Kazee, Jayron Kearse and Malik Hooker could all be free agents after the season. Catalon has been impressive this season for Arkansas, where he regularly makes plays all over the field. Unfortunately, his season ended earlier this month after suffering a shoulder injury.
Round 1 - Pick 26
Justyn Ross WR
Clemson • Jr • 6'4" / 205 lbs
Ross missed the 2020 season because of a neck injury but he was on track to be a first-round pick. He's showed glimpses this season of what makes him special -- consistently winning at the top of the route, reliable hands, and his ability to high-point throws over defenders helpless to do much about it. And hey, maybe it's not too late to finally get Aaron Rodgers a first-round wideout.
Round 1 - Pick 28
Washington • Soph • 5'11" / 195 lbs
Even though McDuffie plays cornerback, we get Tyrann Mathieu vibes when we watch him. We love him as a slot corner who serves as an enforcer in run support and locks down short and intermediate routes, something he does regularly for the Huskies.
From Los Angeles Rams
Round 1 - Pick 29
Sam Howell QB
North Carolina • Jr • 6'1" / 225 lbs
Howell has been up and down this season for the Tar Heels, and we wouldn't take him in Round 1, but the Lions are desperate to find their next franchise QB. Howell has shown glimpses of Matthew Stafford-level gunslingin', though the consistency just hasn't been there.
Round 1 - Pick 32
Kentucky • Sr • 6'5" / 345 lbs
Darian Kinnard is a mauler who has been inconsistent at times this season but has all the tools to be a first-round talent. The Bills are in the enviable position of not having any glaring holes, so protecting Josh Allen seems like a reasonable fallback plan.