With only a few days remaining until the start of free agency, I’ve decided to give the Internet what it desperately needs: another first-round mock draft.
It goes without saying that many of these fits are likely to change once we have a better idea of how each team approaches free agency. For now, though, let’s take a look at how the first round could shake out just over a month from now. And always remember that no team has ever made a fan mad with their first-round draft selection. They always make sense!
1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)
Right or wrong, Lawrence has been a lock for this spot since leading Clemson to a national championship as a true freshman.
2. New York Jets – Penei Sewell (OT, Oregon)
Given his background as a former offensive lineman, I can’t help but imagine GM Joe Douglas salivating over the thought of having Mekhi Becton and Penei Sewell as his bookend tackles for the next decade.
3. Miami Dolphins – Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)
Miami’s aggressiveness in free agency, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, should help determine the direction of this pick. LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase is the clear WR1 of this class and would give Tua Tagavailoa a dynamic weapon in the Dolphins’ offense.
4. Atlanta Falcons – Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State)
The Falcons have been hot on quarterbacks early in the draft process so it makes a ton of sense to pair them with Georgia native Justin Fields, even if he sits behind Matt Ryan for a year. Fields oozes arm talent and athleticism and I’ll be shocked if he makes it out of the first five selections on draft day.
5. Cincinnati Bengals – Rashawn Slater (OT, Northwestern)
Joe Burrow’s promising rookie year came to an unfortunate end last season, which should serve as a wake-up call that the Bengals need to do everything in their power to protect their franchise quarterback. Cincy hasn’t shied away from taking guys who may not fit the ideal height-length “requirements” at tackle, but there’s certainly no doubt Slater is a top-ten talent.
6. Philadelphia Eagles – Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida)
After casting off former hero Carson Wentz to Indy, the Eagles atone for at least some of their past draft sins with the selection of dynamic Florida tight end Kyle Pitts. Some evaluators already see a Hall of Fame trajectory for the former Gator, who will see plenty of targets from quarterback Jalen Hurts in his rookie year.
7. Detroit Lions – Christian Darrisaw (OT, Virginia Tech)
Wide receiver is certainly an option here given Detroit’s impending free agents but instead they choose to add help on the offensive line with Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw. Darrisaw is my OT1 in this class but is still probably the third tackle off the board behind Sewell and Slater.
8. Carolina Panthers – Zach Wilson (QB, BYU)
Much like last year’s top pick, Joe Burrow, no one has enjoyed as remarkable of a climb up draft boards than BYU quarterback Zach Wilson. Pairing him with Burrow’s former offensive coordinator, Joe Brady, in Carolina seems like a match made in heaven.
9. Denver Broncos – Jaycee Horn (CB, South Carolina)
After cutting AJ Bouye, the Broncos could be in the market for a cornerback early in the first round. Trading down from this spot for a quarterback-hungry team also seems like a possibility but in this scenario, we’ll stick with the defensive side of the ball in South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn. Horn checks off every box you want from a size-length perspective and even though his technique could use refinement, his physicality and play style will endear himself to corner-needy teams early in round one.
10. Dallas Cowboys – Jayson Oweh (EDGE, Penn State)
You don’t run a sub-4.4 at 256 pounds the way Penn State’s Jayson Oweh did last week and not get picked in the top 15 of the NFL Draft. Those are the rules.
11. New York Giants – Micah Parsons (LB, Penn State)
Parsons is an old-school bruiser for the middle of a defense and while I’m not a huge fan, especially in the first round, that’s all the more reason to feel like it’s exactly the pick GM Dave Gettleman would make at this spot.
12. San Francisco 49ers – Caleb Farley (CB, Virginia Tech)
Quarterback (Mac Jones or Trey Lance) is a logical fit here but it won’t happen unless Niners pull the trigger on a Jimmy Garoppolo trade. So for now, with Horn off the board and plenty of holes to fill in the secondary, San Francisco opts for the CB1 on many evaluators’ draft boards in Virginia Tech standout, Caleb Farley.
13. Los Angeles Chargers – Teven Jenkins (OT, Oklahoma State)
Trading Russell Okung for a banged-up Trai Turner couldn’t have turned out much worse for the Chargers than it did, as evidenced by the team cutting Turner to clear cap space this week. Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert can’t be too excited about the current state of the team’s offensive line, which makes an early pick up front a must for new head coach Brandon Staley. Enter Oklahoma State’s Teven Jenkins, who plays with a nasty demeanor and displays excellent athleticism in space.
14. Minnesota Vikings – Trevon Moehrig (S, TCU)
If safety Anthony Harris finds a lucrative offer on the free agent market, Minnesota may look to find an immediate replacement for what has become one of the most steady safety tandems in football over the last several years. TCU’s Trevon Moehrig has the instincts, range and physicality to fit right into Mike Zimmer’s defense on day one.
15. New England Patriots – DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama)
The concerns about DeVonta Smith’s slight frame holding up in the NFL are legitimate. But so is his talent. It’s hard not to root for the kid and I’d venture to guess that Bill Belichick would waste no time in wanting to add his explosiveness, work ethic and football intelligence to the roster at this point in the first round.
16. Arizona Cardinals – Jaylen Waddle (WR, Alabama)
The Cardinals seemingly outbid themselves for JJ Watt and if the pick isn’t a cornerback here, it’s hard to imagine Kliff Kingsbury passing on a talent like Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle. Waddle and Hop are two ways to get around and Arizona is also hoping it can get them to an NFC West title in 2021.
17. Las Vegas Raiders – Zaven Collins (LB, Tulsa)
The Raiders’ defense was horrific in 2020 and the team will be hoping that new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley can engineer a massive turnaround next season. Tulsa’s Zaven Collins is a dynamic, rangy linebacker who reminds me quite a bit of one of Bradley’s former defensive chess pieces, KJ Wright. Collins’ on-field tenacity and playmaking ability would be a perfect fit for Las Vegas at this spot.
18. Miami Dolphins – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB, Notre Dame)
With Collins off the board just one pick ahead of them, the Dolphins turn to the next-best option at linebacker in Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. The former Fighting Irish standout hits like a missile and is capable of lining up all over the formation. Finding his exact positional fit may be a challenge early on, but his rare athleticism give him as high of a ceiling as any defensive prospect in the entire draft. If not Owusu-Koramoah, look for Clemson’s Travis Etienne to be another name to watch with this selection.
19. Washington Football Team – Trey Lance (QB, North Dakota State)
It was awfully difficult to find a fit for Lance but ultimately he lands here in Washington at pick nineteen. You can’t ignore Lance’s upside, nor the fact that he enters the draft with very limited reps, and ones at an FCS school to boot. If a team in the top ten doesn’t fall in love with the former North Dakota State standout, expect him to land in this general range on Day 1.
20. Chicago Bears – Mac Jones (QB, Alabama)
Truthfully, this selection and the one prior with Washington could be flipped and it wouldn’t be at all surprising. I have a hunch that the Bears may prefer Lance but with the current regime in win-now mode, Jones could give them the better chance win right out of the gate.
21. Indianapolis Colts – Alijah Vera-Tucker (OT, USC)
Anthony Castonzo’s retirement leaves a clear hole at left tackle for the Colts as they try to re-animate what’s left of Carson Wentz. USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker filled in admirably in place of 2019 first-rounder Austin Jackson at left tackle last season, and could find himself manning the same spot in Indy.
22. Tennessee Titans – Azeez Ojulari (EDGE, Georgia)
If your last first-round pick from Georgia didn’t work out, why not try again on the other side of the ball? Ojulari will get knocked for his size but his explosiveness and ability to get to the quarterback would make him a welcome addition on Mike Vrabel’s defense.
23. New York Jets – Elijah Moore (WR, Ole Miss)
The Jets continue to overhaul their abysmal offense by adding Ole Miss standout Elijah Moore with their second selection in round one. Moore has excellent hands and is a dynamic route-runner who would make an excellent pairing with Denzel Mims in the new-look New York offense.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Samuel Cosmi (OT, Texas)
I think Pittsburgh will seriously consider a quarterback like Trey Lance if he falls this far but this is still a team that needs help on the offensive line. Texas offensive tackle Samuel Cosmi recently put up astronomical testing numbers at the Longhorns’ Pro Day, and figures to now be a lock for a first-round selection.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars – Pat Freiermuth (TE, Penn State)
With talent on the outside in DJ Chark and Laviska Shenault, the Jags add a security blanket towards the end of round one in Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth. The former Nittany Lion is a well-rounded talent who should find plenty of opportunities to work underneath for new franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
26. Cleveland Browns – Kwity Paye (EDGE, Michigan)
Cleveland seems to be in a good position to take a player who may fall unexpectedly, and twitchy edge rusher Kwity Paye is one such player who the club could have their eye on. Wide receiver and cornerback will be options here as well but for now they invest in yet another ultra-athletic pass rusher.
27. Baltimore Ravens – Carlos Basham Jr. (EDGE, Wake Forest)
As always, wide receiver will certainly be a consideration here (Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman, North Carolina’s Dyami Brown are two possibilities) but instead I’ll go with a cost-controlled edge rusher in Wake Forest’s Carlos Basham Jr. “Boogie,” as he’s known, isn’t super twitchy but can wreak havoc using heavy hands and excellent technique to penetrate gaps and get to the quarterback.
28. New Orleans Saints – Patrick Surtain II (CB, Alabama)
As the Saints navigate Cap Hell, they must continue to add pieces on defense and can’t believe their luck with New Orleans native Patrick Surtain II still on the board at the end of the first round.
29. Green Bay Packers – Rashod Bateman (WR, Minnesota)
Speaking of not being able to believe a guy is still on the board, welcome to the Green Bay Packers and Rashod Bateman at pick 29. While I don’t necessarily think Bateman falls this far, just think of how scary a Rashod Bateman-Davante Adams pairing will be for opposing defenses next season.
30. Buffalo Bills – Greg Newsome II (CB, Northwestern)
The remarkable development of Josh Allen has the Buffalo Bills in a spot to contend in the AFC for the foreseeable future. If they want to get over the hump and past the Chiefs, they’ll need help in the secondary and find it near the end of the first round with Northwestern standout Greg Newsome II.
31. Kansas City Chiefs – Creed Humphrey (iOL, Oklahoma)
When people start throwing out Frankenstein comps for your Pro Day workout, you know you probably just made yourself some NFL money. The Chiefs know their path to another Super Bowl title starts with keeping Patrick Mahomes upright, so why not add the steady interior presence that Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey will bring on day one of his pro career?
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Levi Onwuzurike (iDL, Washington)
Tom Brady is going to have to start adding fingers to hold all the rings he continues to win. Tampa’s roster will be just as loaded as it was last year, which is a scary thought, so they decide to take a Best Player Available approach with my favorite iDL in the class, Washington’s Levi Onwuzurike.
Other names to watch: Joe Tryon (EDGE, Washington), Gregory Rousseau (EDGE, Miami), Jalen Mayfield (OT, Michigan), Ronnie Perkins (EDGE, Oklahoma), Jaelen Phillips (EDGE, Miami), Travis Etienne (RB, Clemson)
About the author: Conor Dorney is writer and comedian originally from Seattle, Washington. He is an alumnus of the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. You can follow him on Twitter here so the rest of us don’t have to. He currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife, Jessica.