With the draft roughly two weeks away, and teams locked down in meetings to finalize evaluations and set their boards, I figured I'd take my first shot at figuring out the top 10.
Obviously much could change between now and when these picks are made, and as always, my one-and-only mock draft won't come out until draft day, but I have been in contact with a number of execs picking in the top 10 and many agents for top prospects and things seem to be coming into focus, somewhat at least.
Here is what I am thinking:
1) Jacksonville – Trevor Lawrence. Duh.
2) N.Y. Jets – Zach Wilson. Double duh.
3) San Francisco – Mac Jones. I'll go with the conventional groupthink here for this exercise.
4) TRADE New England – Trey Lance. The Falcons might not want to go down to the mid-teens, but then again with such a premium on offensive players they should still get a blue chip defender in the Pats' spot, plus amass much-needed draft capital for their version of a rebuild-on-the-fly with new management lacking in surplus picks. The hoody gets his QB.
5) Cincinnati – Kyle Pitts. I believe this is where owner Mike Brown's heart is right now, and if he wants Pitts, they'll get Pitts.
6) Miami – Ja'Marr Chase. Run on WRs starts here, and the LSU burner has the chance to be very special.
7) Detroit – Justin Fields. I expect the OSU QB to crush his final workout. Jared Goff has limitations. Letting Fields sit a year would be smart. They have additional draft capital from the Matt Stafford/Goff deal to be flexible in 2021 and beyond.
8) Carolina – Penei Sewell. New QB Sam Darnold now has bookend tackles to go with an array of weapons on offense. No excuses.
9) Denver – Micah Parsons. There may be some character concerns, but this is an elite athlete who can disrupt all over. Vic Fangio is trying to win with this defense right now, and they can add a quarterback via trade (more on that below). Eventually some defensive players have to come off the board.
10) Dallas – Rashawn Slater. Dak Prescott is coming off season-ending surgery and the OL has become an issue. A few years back the Cowboys road funneling picks into the OL into becoming a decent team again. Time to start reloading with that group up front aging and oft-injured.
Collins loved more by teams than by Mock Draft Nation
Linebacker Zaven Collins (Tulsa) is getting more love from teams than seems to be displayed by Mock Draft Nation. Linebackers in general are going to do better than we've seen in many recent years, because the EDGE and DT groups are thin and lack surefire studs. People are also sleeping on OSU LB Pete Warner, who is going fare a lot better than I see projected. Jamin Davis of Kentucky is going high as well. "It's Kwity Paye and a whole lot of hoping and praying," one GM said of the pass rush class.
Bridgewater looking Broncos-bound
Would be very surprised if Teddy Bridgewater is not in Denver by draft weekend. Continue to hear buzz about it and I know the Broncos are quite interested. It fits Fangio's model perfectly and the new GM was a part of the Vikings brass that drafted Teddy B.
Lions could get strong value in a move down
I came very close to mocking Fields at No. 7 via trade. Don't know how far back the Lions would be willing to go, but if they don't grab the QB themselves they might get strong value in a move down. Maybe from the Patriots, if Lance is gone and New England hasn't moved up higher. Maybe from the Washington Football Team. The Lions know they aren't close, a lot of young regimes have been going the accumulate-draft-capital route and it would make a lot of sense for Detroit, too. They could take the best defensive player on their board – as the Lions need help all over on that side of the ball – but there aren't many sure things in the pass rush class, and they will end up fielding a lot of calls, either way. Denver and Dallas could also be trade down spots for someone to grab a QB.
More insider notes
- Talking to a few execs this week who strongly believe the top 15 picks will skew heavily to the offensive side of the ball, with a run on defensive players completing the round. You see that reflected in this top 10. With five QBs expected to go in the top 10, and likely three WRs in the top 12, and two tackles, at least, in the top 15 or so, plus Pitts ... well, do the math.
- Dallas may very well go corner at 10, and either way I figure several of them go in the teens. Arizona will pounce on Jaycee Horn if he is still available when they pick, from what I gather.
- The Dolphins picks a year ago left some scratching their heads. So while I think taking RB Najee Harris at No. 18 seems a little rich, I hear a strong buzz about him being very much in contention for that selection.
- For years we've seen QBs go straight to starting – in some cases as soon as Week 1 of their rookie year – but that pendulum is swinging. Many of this group of quarterbacks will be redshirting. Blast from the past. And given how little football was played at some schools last year, it makes sense.
- Continue to hear the Vikings and Bears are doing a lot of work on QBs in this draft. Probably not to take one in the first round, I guess, but you never know.
- The Eagles are going to have a pick of one – and possibly two – of the best wideouts in this draft by moving back to 12. I think that trade back is going to work out nicely from them.
- At this point I expect USC's Alijah Vera-Tucker to be the third offensive lineman off the board following the top two tackles.