Let me begin this inane exercise with a caveat: If Bill Belichick reunites with Jimmy Garoppolo today, then things could obviously go in a different direction this evening when Roger Goodell begins to flex his bro-hug muscles.
Actually, let me clarify: In full disclosure, this entire process is filled with caveats even in the best of times. Even fuller disclosure: In terms of medical information and having a combine clearinghouse for on-field and health testing, this is not the best of times to be mocking 32 players to 32 teams. Yet we proceed. So here goes, anyway!
I ended up surprising myself here. Never would have guessed I have the same number of receivers and running backs in a 2021 mock. But I do. Can't recall ever feeling less certain about a class of defensive tackles or edge rushers. How about one trade that fills two QB needs? I am very much embracing the weird.
(And one final disclaimer: As you are reading this, I can guarantee you that in realtime I am bugging one of my editors to please let me tear this up and rework it based on something I just heard that has probably a 51% chance at best of actually being true. And they will rightfully ignore me and/or tell me to pound sand.)
From Miami Dolphins
Round 1 - Pick 3
Round 1 - Pick 4
Kyle Pitts TE
Florida • 6'6" / 245 lbs
Oh how the football people in that building are eager to move back, within reason. And maybe they work something out with Miami, so the Dolphins get Ja'Marr Chase ahead of Cincy and Atlanta gets Pitts or Penei Sewell or any other WR in the draft. But I'm going chalk and banking on owner Arthur Blank wanting some pizzazz to lure fans back.
Round 1 - Pick 5
LSU • 6'0" / 201 lbs
They should be trying to trade down harder than anyone in this draft, but this is the Bengals. Not happening. I would go tackle and they very well could go Sewell, but I keep hearing Chase, who should be a stud.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Alabama • 6'0" / 170 lbs
They want an explosive cog for the passing game, and with deep New England roots in this organization, and Belichick a special teams freak, I think the return stuff puts him maybe just ahead of teammate Jaylen Waddle here.
Mock Trade from Detroit Lions
Round 1 - Pick 7
Ohio State • 6'3" / 227 lbs
All I heard for months was The Hoodie is all about Trey Lance and doesn't want Fields. My gut tells me that was in fact an elaborate smokescreen. A Jimmy G trade mitigates this, but this just feels right to me. New England swaps firsts and sends one of its fourth-round picks in 2021 and a 2022 first-rounder to Detroit to get it done.
Round 1 - Pick 8
Penei Sewell OL
Oregon • 6'5" / 331 lbs
They badly need corners, and if Fields is on the board, I could see owner David Tepper asking some probing questions. They have been all about trading down and that is a very real possibility. But I have them trying to incubate Sam Darnold.
Round 1 - Pick 9
Penn State • 6'3" / 248 lbs
Teddy Bridgewater gives them a young, competent NFL starting QB. Big box to check. Could this be Lance or Fields? Sure. But they are building with defense and Vic Fangio in this scenario gets his pick of any defensive player in the draft. Guys I trust have given me Junior Seau as a Parsons comp. So I lean to him over the two corners about to go off this faux board.
Round 1 - Pick 10
Round 1 - Pick 11
Alabama • 6'2" / 202 lbs
This very well could be Waddle, or Kwity Paye. They like them both. I just keep going back to their depth chart at corner (it should be deemed a shallow chart in this instance) and the film tells you Surtain is special.
Round 1 - Pick 14
USC • 6'5" / 308 lbs
Never discount them taking a defensive player with Mike Zimmer at the helm, but man O-line has been a big problem for them for quite some time. This is also a very legit landing spot for Lance, and Minnesota has been heavy on evaluating this QB class. This is a coin flip for me between Vera-Tucker and Christian Darrisaw.
Mock Trade from New England Patriots
Round 1 - Pick 15
Trey Lance QB
North Dakota State • 6'4" / 226 lbs
In several iterations of this mock I had Chicago getting into this range to get a QB. And the Lions could take someone like Darrisaw in this spot and call it a win. But Jared Goff being the long-term answer at QB is unlikely, and they have ample draft capital to fill needs this year and beyond.
Round 1 - Pick 17
Round 1 - Pick 18
Najee Harris RB
Alabama • 6'1" / 232 lbs
Give Tua some former Alabama teammates and see what he can do. No excuses. Would I be shocked if they go with a defender like Paye or Jaelan Phillips? No. But I have heard Harris here forever and I'm buying it.
Round 1 - Pick 20
Caleb Farley CB
Virginia Tech • 6'2" / 197 lbs
Overt need at corner carries the day here for me. Maybe they land Lance. And Rashod Bateman makes a lot of sense, too, and I know they like him. I figure someone in back half of first round is comfortable enough with Farley's medical to take the gamble.
From Seattle Seahawks
Round 1 - Pick 23
From Los Angeles Rams
Round 1 - Pick 25
Alabama • 6'5" / 310 lbs
They could address any level of the defense here, or go OL. I keep coming back to the interior of the defense, and GM Trent Baalke has gambled on boom-or-bust guys before with some potential red flags.
Round 1 - Pick 26
Jamin Davis LB
Kentucky • 6'4" / 234 lbs
Been writing about this LB class for weeks and how much teams loved the top half-dozen or so. Browns working hard to upgrade their second level. They love Ohio State's Pete Werner, too, but I suspect that is more if they are able to trade down.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Jaelan Phillips EDGE
Miami (FL) • 6'5" / 266 lbs
He could be long gone by 11:30 ET Thursday night. If he went at 11 to NYG, I wouldn't be shocked. But in this exercise he is still here because of the medical concerns. And they are also very open to trading down, too. EDGE and OL are major needs, and there would be some high-fives if he is there when they pick.
Round 1 - Pick 29
Northwestern • 6'0" / 192 lbs
The run on corners continues. These guys always seem to draft DBs pretty high. I get the sense they are fairly comfortable with their young OL developing and they have done a lot of work on WRs, but there will be Day Two value there with how this board has gone.
From Kansas City Chiefs
Round 1 - Pick 31
Alabama • 6'6" / 333 lbs
They are shopping this pick. But I am not sold on someone moving up for a QB. They love Alabama kids. Every GM and coach in the league loves this kid. Wish I had a dollar for every time a decision-maker called him "a culture changer." Yes, the medicals are a problem, but you also might get five years of superior play at center or guard. Alabama teammate Alex Leatherwood or Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey or NDSU's Dillon Radunz or Oklahoma State tackle Teven Jenkins all make sense.
Round 1 - Pick 32
Oklahoma State • 6'6" / 320 lbs
They brought the entire band back together and can afford to take any position. No immediate need at tackle but Donovan Smith only signed a two-year deal and paying a right tackle $16M by 2022, with all the payroll they are already spending elsewhere, might not make sense for them.