Confusion. That is the one word I would use to describe the draft right now.
Who are the 49ers going to select? The Eagles want to move back into the top ten? Will the Falcons take a quarterback?
These are just a few of many questions that riddle many draft experts to this day.
This COVID-19 rattled draft cycle has made it almost impossible to actually know what is going to happen on draft night. In a weird way, it’s becoming more and more unclear as to what teams are actually thinking as we get closer to draft night.
As it stands now, 10 days from the draft, this is my best guess as to what the first round may look like based on reports I have been seeing all around the league.
Let’s get right into it.
1 – Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence | QB, Clemson
The least surprising pick of the draft, Jacksonville gets the best quarterback in the draft to hopefully change their misfortunes as a franchise.
2 – Jets: Zach Wilson | QB, BYU
It seems almost like a done deal that Wilson will be a Jet come draft day. The coaching staff will take on the BYU signal-caller to reign in their new era.
3 – 49ers (via MIA): Mac Jones | QB, Alabama
Despite the Las Vegas odds turning in Justin Fields’ and Trey Lance’s direction of late, I have seen too many trusted sources say that Mac Jones is the pick and still lean that way. Despite an average athletic profile, Kyle Shanahan trusts Jones’ ability to deliver the ball where it needs to be to keep his offense on track.
4 – Falcons: Kyle Pitts | TE, Florida
It’s reported that new GM Terry Fontenont wants a quarterback, while new head coach Arthur Smith really likes Matt Ryan. While it would make sense to draft his replacement eventually, I don’t see the point when Ryan has two more years on his contract. Adding Pitts to an offense with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley will make the Falcons nearly unstoppable.
5 – Bengals: Ja’Marr Chase | WR, LSU
The Bengals real need along the offensive line is on the interior, so taking Penei Sewell isn’t as necessary as people think. Joe Burrow’s preference will undoubtedly be in the decision-makers minds come draft day, and reuniting the two players that lit college football on fire in 2019 will give that offense some much needed juice.
6 – Dolphins (via PHI): Penei Sewell | OT, Oregon
With Pitts and Chase off the board at four and five, the Dolphins should take Sewell and not think twice about it. There will be plenty of pass-catching talent at their next pick, and the difference Sewell will make instantaneously is too good to pass up.
7 – *Eagles (via DET): Jaylen Waddle | WR, Alabama
Eagles trade: pick 12, 2022 2nd and 2022 4th to the Lions for pick seven
The Eagles are rumored to want to get back into the top ten and the Lions would probably be more happy trading back from this spot anyways. The Eagles likely want to add a pass-catcher to help Jalen Hurts next year, and Waddle answers that call for them.
8 – Panthers: Rashawn Slater | OT, Northwestern
After selling out for Sam Darnold, they need to keep him clean. Carolina’s offensive line needs help in multiple spots, and Slater can realistically play anywhere for them.
9 – Broncos: Trey Lance | QB, North Dakota State
I don’t think the Broncos are going to be ultra-aggressive to grab a quarterback, but if one falls to them I don’t see them passing. Lance fits the mold of an “Elway-style quarterback” and is at the very least insurance for Drew Lock in 2021.
10 – *Patriots (via DAL): Justin Fields | QB, Ohio State
Patriots trade: pick 15, 2022 2nd and a 2022 4th to the Cowboys for pick 10
After seeing Lance go off the board, the Patriots know that this is the only opportunity to get their signal-caller of the future. Bill Belichick likely doesn’t plan on being as high as 15 anytime soon and with Fields sliding this far, he makes the move without giving up too many future assets.
11 – Giants: Micah Parsons | LB, Penn State
The Giants spent all offseason beefing up their secondary, now they turn to the front seven. Parsons can play a multitude of positions as a linebacker and gives Joe Judge a lot of scheme versatility.
12 – *Lions (via PHI): Kwity Paye | EDGE, Michigan
Lions trade pick seven to the Eagles for pick 12, 2022 2nd and 2022 4th
The Lions probably aren’t looking to make any splashes this year as that roster has a long way to go before they’re where they want to be, so they go and take one of the safer players in the draft in Paye. Has a high floor as an early-down edge defender that can easily develop into an elite pass rusher.
13 – Chargers: Christian Darrisaw | OT, Virginia Tech
The only real weak spot on the Chargers line after an offseason of retooling is the left tackle position. Darrisaw has some effort concerns but when playing full speed is one of the best tackles in the class.
14 – Minnesota Vikings: Alijah Vera-Tucker | OT, USC
The Vikings have had offensive line problems for a while, but losing Riley Reiff in free agency just made it worse. With a player as astute in run-blocking and pass protection as Vera-Tucker still on the board, they can’t pass it up.
15 – *Cowboys (via NE): Patrick Surtain II | CB, Alabama
Cowboys trade pick 10 to the Patriots for pick 15, 2022 3rd and a 2022 4th
Surtain to the Cowboys is probably the most popular pick in every mock draft I have seen. They need help anywhere they can get it in that secondary and adding a corner as technically sound and scheme versatile as Surtain is the easy pick.
16 – Cardinals: Jaycee Horn | CB, South Carolina
Much like the Cowboys, the Cardinals need to add talent to that secondary. Horn has some fine-tuning to do but has the ability to be the best defensive player from this class and a true shut-down corner in the NFL.
17 – Raiders: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah | LB, Notre Dame
To put it frankly, the Raiders defense leaves a lot to be desired. Drafting someone like J.O.K. who can play many positions across multiple schemes helps to make up for what they lack in the talent department.
18 – Dolphins: DeVonta Smith | WR, Alabama
The Dolphins need weapons for Tua and they add one of the better ones in the class with this pick. Smith’s size (170 pounds) is undoubtedly going to push him down the board and the Dolphins can sit pretty and land last year’s Heisman trophy winner.
19 – Football Team: Zaven Collins | LB, Tulsa
Collins is a guy that front offices are drooling over due to his athletic profile. Ron Rivera coached and loved LB Shaq Thompson during his time in Carolina. Collins projects into a similar role for Rivera at the next level.
20 – Bears: Caleb Farley | CB, Virginia Tech
Farley might be the first corner off the board if it weren’t for a recent back surgery. The Bears need corner help after losing Kyle Fuller and a healthy Farley can aid in doing just that right away.
21 – Colts: Jaelan Phillips | EDGE, Miami
If it weren’t for his concussion history, Phillips might be a top-ten pick this year. That pushes him down to a Colts team that was stout on defense in 2020 but could afford to add some juice to that pass rush.
22 – Titans: Rashod Bateman | WR, Minnesota
After losing Corey Davis to free agency, the Titans draft his replacement in Bateman. If it weren’t for complications due to COVID causing him to miss most of the season, Bateman would be gone long before the Titan’s pick. They get lucky and nab him to pair alongside A.J. Brown.
23 – Jets (via SEA): Landon Dickerson | IOL, Alabama
If the Jets have learned anything from the Sam Darnold experiment it’s that if they can’t protect their quarterback he will not develop correctly. Adding the best interior lineman in the class will make Zach Wilson’s life easier from day one.
24 – Steelers: Najee Harris | RB, Alabama
Rumor has it the Steelers are going to add a running back in the first two rounds this year to add shades of the Le’Veon Bell days to this offense. The options that may be there in round two pail in comparison to the do-it-all style that Harris plays with. That offense may be formidable again with a back as good as Harris on the field.
25 – Jaguars (via LAR): Trevon Moehrig | S, TCU
The Jaguars have some young pieces on that defense that could develop nicely if they’re playing on an actual winning team. Safety is not one of those positions. Adding Moehrig who can play multiple safety positions can pick up slack in areas where it is needed.
26 – Browns: Azeez Ojulari | EDGE, Georgia
The Browns don’t have many holes to fill on defense, especially after signing Jadeveon Clowney, but there is no such thing as too much pass rush. Ojulari is the best speed-rusher in the class and can prove as a nice change-of-pace compliment to the powerful styles of Myles Garrett and Clowney.
27 – Ravens: Creed Humphrey | IOL, Oklahoma
People point to lack of weapons as the main reason for Lamar Jackson’s fall from grace in 2020, but it had a lot more to do with poor offensive line play. The offensive line needs help on the interior and the athletically gifted ex-wrestler goes a long way in hoisting Jackson back to an MVP level.
28 – Saints: Greg Newsome III | CB, Northwestern
The Saints front-seven was fantastic at hiding some of the problems that plagued the secondary last season, but when they didn’t do that it clearly showed. They add the sticky Northwestern product to pair with Marshon Lattimore in hopes of stifling those stout NFC South offenses.
29 – Packers: Quinn Meinerz | IOL, Wisconsin-Whitewater
After losing All-Pro center Corey Linsley to free agency, the Packers would be smart to replace him with Meinerz. An offensive line is only as strong as their weakest link and Meinerz slides in and keeps that group playing at an elite level for 2021.
30 – Bills: Payton Turner | EDGE, Houston
Turner has been rising up draft boards of late due to his pro-day testing performance. He has a lot of tools to work with and is more polished than some of the other guys in this class. The Houston product gives the Bills a more difference-making pass rush than they are used to that could help take them over the hump.
31 – Chiefs: Teven Jenkins | OT, Oklahoma State
The Chiefs need to make sure last year’s Super Bowl massacre doesn’t happen again and that starts with protecting Patrick Mahomes. Jenkins can easily mold into one of the top pass-protectors in the league with some fine-tuning of his technique.
32 – Buccaneers: Elijah Moore | WR, Ole Miss
The Super Bowl Champs returned 22/22 starters from their team last year and have no realistic holes to fill. Moore can add a new dimension to that offense that rotates a lot of wide receivers in to begin with.