Hello, everyone, and welcome to another Wednesday in the NFL. John Breech is taking the day off, so you're stuck with me -- Cody Benjamin, the man with two first names -- as we traverse the latest from around the NFL.
This is the Pick Six Newsletter. Now let's get to it. (And please, do yourself a favor and make sure you're signed up to receive this newsletter every day! You don't want to miss our daily offerings of everything you need to know around the NFL.)
We've got draft buzz, a new first-round mock, Pete Prisco's favorite prospects and much more:
At this point in the pre-draft process, it's all but a foregone conclusion that Clemson's Trevor Lawrence will go No. 1 to the Jaguars and BYU's Zach Wilson will go No. 2 to the Jets, with the 49ers reportedly most likely to take Alabama's Mac Jones at No. 3. Ohio State's Justin Fields, meanwhile, has been in something of a no man's land when it comes to draft-day projections: Some think he could be in play for San Francisco, while others struggle to pinpoint a landing spot in the top five.
If you ask CBS Sports college football expert Tom Fornelli, however, Fields shouldn't be such an enigma. He should be a top three pick, at worst.
"I have Justin Fields closer to Trevor Lawrence than I have any other quarterback in this class to Justin Fields," Fornelli told Will Brinson on Wednesday's Pick Six NFL Podcast (listen and subscribe here). "I'm just sitting here, like, 'If you wanna take Zach Wilson or Mac Jones before Justin Fields, you go right ahead. I'll gladly take Justin Fields.'"
Fornelli admitted Fields isn't a perfect prospect, saying the Buckeyes QB sometimes holds the ball too long. Everything else about Fields, however, screams No. 1-pick material.
"This is a 6-4, 4.5 40, big arm, accurate down the field (guy)," Fornelli said. "In most any season, this is the No. 1 pick. But he just happens to be coming out the same year as Trevor Lawrence. And since Trevor Lawrence is pretty much the anointed No. 1 pick, (people) start nitpicking."
Wilson, Fornelli argued, has gotten a big boost because of his legitimate ability to make "off-platform throws," but mostly because it's reminiscent of the current standard for QB prospects: Patrick Mahomes. Fields, on the other hand, is simply a better physical prospect in every way, not to mention with more production against better competition. In his mind, the Jets (No. 2) and 49ers (No. 3) should be giving long, hard looks at the QB with their first-round picks.
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2. Insider notes: How the top 10 is likely to unfold in the draft
CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora won't drop his one and only 2021 mock until the day of the draft, but in the meantime, he's combined personal projections with insight from around the league to forecast the top 10 picks of Round One. Among the most notable selections: Florida tight end Kyle Pitts to the Bengals at No. 5, where team owner Mike Brown has his "heart" set on the pass-catching phenom; and Ohio State QB Justin Fields to the Lions at No. 7:
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.
You'll want to check out La Canfora's full breakdown for the rest of the top 10, but Fields to Detroit would certainly hold up as a justification of the Ohio State QB's top 10 value. As he mentioned, it'd also give the Lions more than one long-term option under center as they look to begin the post-Stafford regime.
3. Prisco's favorite prospects: Davis Mills could be a gem of the QB class
Each year, CBS Sports' Pete Prisco identifies 20 draft prospects he likes more than scouts. Most of them tend to be non-first-round projections. And there is no shortage of notable alumni from Prisco's Better-Than Team: Dak Prescott, Stefon Diggs, Tyler Lockett, George Kittle and Yannick Ngakoue are just a few of the names Prisco has forecast as future NFL stars.
This year? Prisco's back with his 20 under-the-radar favorites from the 2021 class. Here's a sneak peek at five of the prospects on the list, along with some early projections from Prisco regarding their NFL fate:
- Stanford QB Davis Mills: "I think ... he will end up being better than one or two of the top five quarterbacks in this draft."
- UCLA RB Demetric Felton: "I see him ... as a third-down back and return man, who can also play in the slot."
- North Carolina WR Dyami Brown: "He will be a star on the next level -- maybe even better than one of the big-three receivers."
- Pittsburgh DT Jaylen Twyman: "He reminds me of a (previous captain) of the Better-Than team: Grady Jarrett."
- Florida State CB Asante Samuel Jr.: "If he were two inches taller, he might be ... the best corner prospect in the draft."
4. Broncos, Bucs among teams set to boycott voluntary workouts
As COVID-19 vaccinations become increasingly available nationwide, the NFL has promised more of a return to normalcy in 2021, with commissioner Roger Goodell even recently predicting that all 32 teams will have full stadiums this fall. Even so, several clubs have gone public with plans to boycott in-person voluntary workouts this offseason. A year after the entire league shifted to mostly virtual programs ahead of training camp, the Broncos, Buccaneers, Lions and Seahawks this week announced intentions to skip in-person workouts before camp.
"Despite having a completely virtual offseason last year, the quality of play across the NFL was better than ever by almost every measure," the Broncos said in a statement. "We hope players across the NFL work with our union as we did to get all the facts so every player can make an informed decision."
The Seahawks had similar thoughts, also pointing to health benefits: "While many states in this country are still seeing rising COVID-19 numbers, we believe that a virtual offseason is best for everyone's protection. Our hope is that we will see a positive shift in the COVID-19 data that will allow for a safe return for players when mandatory workouts are set to begin."
5. Jonathan Jones mock draft: Patriots trade up to No. 4 for Trey Lance
New England has arguably had the busiest offseason of any NFL team, owning the free agency headlines with big deals for a handful of veterans. Now that the draft is nearly upon us, CBS Sports NFL senior reporter Jonathan Jones believes the Patriots will return to the spotlight with full force. In his new first-round 2021 mock draft, Jones has the Pats moving all the way up from No. 15 to No. 4 to land NDSU quarterback Trey Lance:
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. (The) 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.
Here's how the rest of Jones' top 10 unfolds:
- Jaguars: QB Trevor Lawrence
- Jets: QB Zach Wilson
- 49ers: QB Mac Jones
- Patriots (via trade): QB Trey Lance
- Bengals: OL Penei Sewell
- Dolphins: TE Kyle Pitts
- Broncos (via trade): QB Justin Fields
- Panthers: WR Ja'Marr Chase
- Lions (via trade): WR Jaylen Waddle
- Cowboys: CB Patrick Surtain II
Not a single NFC North team did a ton to help itself in free agency. The Bears elicited eye rolls for their "big" move at QB. The Lions kicked off a rebuild by dealing Matthew Stafford. The Packers stood pat after re-signing Aaron Jones. And the Vikings shuffled the chairs on a veteran defense. All that to say, the draft will be especially important for each of these four clubs. So what, exactly, should they do to ace this month's event? Here are perfect draft plans for the entire bunch:
- Bears' perfect plan: Trade up for Justin Fields or Trey Lance at QB, then stock up on pass catchers.
- Lions' perfect plan: Get Jared Goff help at wide receiver and up front.
- Packers' perfect plan: Capitalize on value in the first round, then dig into the deep WR class.
- Vikings' perfect plan: Shoot for the stars at QB, then keep investing in the trenches.