By: Zack Dietz | @RealZDietz
With the 2020 college football season coming to a close, we should all be grateful. Despite how discombobulated some weeks were with games being canceled or postponed, it has been one heck of a ride. While we’ve seen some things that were expected (Alabama and Clemson are in a class of their own), there has been a slew of breakout players (Zach Wilson for one). It’s all culminating in finding out which team will be the College Football Playoff champions this year and it is also a sign of another beginning: draft season.
This NFL mock draft isn’t what I think will happen but it’s what I think NFL teams will do. I have my own personal big board and have watched over 250 prospects so far this draft cycle and yet I guarantee there will be a few picks in here that I would disagree with. My main objective is to provide you guys, the NFL Draft Bible faithful, a well-thought-out and honest projection of what teams will be doing this coming April. As for trades, you know I got to throw a few of those puppies in here. So without any further ado, let’s get this thing rolling.
(Draft order accurate as of December 24th; player height, weight, and 40-time via the NFL Draft Bible Big Board Database)
1. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson (6056, 220, 4.76e)
You’re going to hear this often leading up to the draft. Trevor Lawrence is the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck and barring a surprise return or catastrophic occurrence, he’s going No.1 overall. The Los Angeles Rams have blessed the Jaguars as of late, trading them their first-rounder in the Jalen Ramsey trade and spontaneously combusting against the Adam Gase-led Jets, which puts the Jags in the driver’s seat for Lawrence. The superstar won’t be walking into a terrible situation either, with a solid offensive line, a few good skill-players and a team with a bunch of cap space and draft capital. Please don’t ruin him, Jacksonville.
2. NEW YORK JETS – Zach Wilson, QB, BYU (6021, 205, 4.84e)
Here we go! Now, I’m not overreacting to Justin Fields’ poor performance against Northwestern, as he’s still my clear-cut QB2. It just seems odd to me that there have been a lot of reports leaking that once New York lost the first pick, all of a sudden they want to build around Sam Darnold while possibly trading down. Is that the plan, or is general manager Joe Douglas not a huge Justin Fields fan? I lean more towards the latter, and the emergence of Zach Wilson makes this selection, not one we should bash.
His accuracy down the field and his greatly improved touch and decision-making remind me of Jared Goff as a prospect (keyword being ‘prospect’).
The Jets know they need a new face of the franchise and I have a gut feeling Joe Douglas finally wants his imprint on the team and get his guy.
3. CINCINNATI BENGALS – Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon (6051, 330, 5.16e)
Cincinnati nabbed their franchise quarterback last year in Joe Burrow and even though he may miss the beginning of next season, the protection up front is in major need of reinforcements. Sewell is the best offensive line prospect I’ve ever scouted and has the size, lateral agility, strength and technique to walk into the NFL tomorrow and be an All-Pro caliber player. Jonah Williams has performed admirably at the left tackle position but it would kill the Bengals to move one of the two into the left guard spot. Those two next to each other would be borderline unstoppable.
4. CAROLINA PANTHERS – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (6025, 228, 4.46e)
The slide has officially stopped. Long considered the clear-cut backup option for the teams who missed out on Lawrence, the Buckeyes gunslinger becomes the third one taken in this mock. I still think Fields is the QB2 of this class but the emergence of Zach Wilson has complicated his pathway. He’d be landing in a fantastic spot though and could learn for a while behind Teddy Bridgewater. Oh yeah, he also has the likes of Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore and Taylor Moton (pending his re-signing) at his disposal. Carolina fans should be over the moon if this happened.
5. ATLANTA FALCONS – Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State (6030, 223, 4.64e)
Many prognosticators will have the Falcons either trading out of this spot or taking their quarterback of the future and I lean towards the latter. Trey Lance’s tape from 2019 was some of the most exciting stuff I have seen in a while, from his powerful running style to his excellent intermediate accuracy. Matt Ryan will still be the starter in 2021 but his contract can be taken off the books following the season and he would be an excellent mentor for the young player from NDSU. Whoever Atlanta’s new general manager is, this is one heck of a splash to make in your first draft.
6. *DALLAS COWBOYS (from Miami from Houston) – Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech (6045, 314, 5.07e)
We have our first trade, folks! Dallas trades up from No.8 and also gives the No.99 pick to jump their division rivals and grab the second-best left tackle in this class.
While Tyron Smith has still been a beast when he’s on the field, he hasn’t played a full season since 2015 and Jerry Jones may want to find his next franchise blindside protector. They could feasibly trade him this offseason and only eat around nine million in dead cap. As for Darrisaw, he reminds me a lot of current Cowboy La’El Collins and his athleticism and power allow him to move around the offensive line if need be. Some Dallas fans may see this as a value pick but it would be nice to see them be proactive with their draft selections.
7. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES – Patrick Surtain Jr., CB, Alabama (6010, 202, 4.52e)
What a mess this season has been for the Philadelphia Eagles. Their recently extended franchise quarterback has been benched, the coaching is abysmal and the defense outside of the defensive line is still bad. Despite the addition of Darius Slay over the summer, the secondary is still a major issue. Patrick Surtain Jr. is the son of the 11-year NFL veteran of the same name and he has the chance to arguably be better in the big leagues. He’s not a freaky athlete but he has the prototypical size, coverage and ball skills that teams seek in a shutdown corner. A tandem of himself and Slay on the outside would be a scary sight for other teams in the NFC East.
8. *MIAMI DOLPHINS (from Dallas) – Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama (6005, 175, 4.49e)
Miami can trade down, acquire another asset and still grab their number-one guy at their biggest position of need. Tua Tagovailoa has shown a ton of promise in his rookie season but outside of Devante Parker and Mike Gesicki, the skill position players are greatly lacking. Smith, who is currently the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy (would be the first wide out since Desmond Howard in 1991), has been unstoppable this year for the Crimson Tide. Forget about his playing weight – this is an elite receiver prospect. His hands, ball skills, long speed and improved route-running have put him in the driver’s seat to be the first skill position player taken this season. He would be an excellent complement to Parker in the Miami passing game.
9. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS – Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan (6026, 272, 4.59e)
The Los Angeles Chargers could be looking at a full overhaul after a second consecutive disappointing season. Luckily, they look to have a future star quarterback in Justin Herbert. Another avenue would be giving him another weapon but let’s address the defense. The Chargers may let Melvin Ingram walk in the offseason and adding another stud on the defensive line is a necessity for Los Angeles. The race for the first pass-rusher is wide open right now but the way Paye has played this season, combined with his improved technique and insane athleticism, he feels like the safest bet to be a star edge-rusher in the NFL.
10. NEW YORK GIANTS – Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State (6021, 245, 4.45e)
The New York Football Giants haven’t taken a linebacker in round one since Carl Banks in 1984 but something feels different this year. Not only is the position in desperate need but Parsons is the best player available. He’s phenomenal at every aspect of playing the linebacker position and has shown the ability to be more than an effective pass-rusher as well. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham would be able to move him all around the field for the Giants and he has a chance to be an All-Pro candidate during his rookie year. Adding a receiver could be beneficial for the development of Daniel Jones but you can’t pass up a talent like this.
11. DETROIT LIONS – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU (6002, 208, 4.42e)
Detroit has a new owner and will have a new front office and head coach as well. This team has been abominable defensively in 2020, so many prognosticators would assume they go for a defensive player here. On the other hand, the only other wide receiver they have under contract for 2021 right now is Quintez Cephus. Not great, Bob. The stock of Chase has taken a minor hit after opting-out this year and the emergence of other receivers but he’s still in the running for best at his position in this loaded class, thanks to his all-around skillset and underrated speed. His tape reminds me of a ton of Chris Godwin. Granted the Lions re-sign Kenny Golladay, this is a lethal one-two punch for Matthew Stafford to throw to.
12. *INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (from San Francisco) – Mac Jones, QB, Alabama (6015, 214, 4.90e)
Indy sends the No.23 pick, the No.56 pick, and a 2022 second-rounder to San Francisco to move up eleven spots and secure their franchise quarterback.
We have a blockbuster on our hands’ ladies and gentlemen! After these two teams swung a mega-deal last offseason, they’re back at it again this year. Despite taking Jacob Eason in round four in 2020, I think Mac Jones is more of the style quarterback Colts general manager Chris Ballard would want. Jones has been arguably the most impressive quarterback this year and his deep ball accuracy and underrated arm strength make him a tantalizing player for Indy. This team has a ton of cap space to make some big moves in free agency, so this is certainly a risk worth taking.
13. DENVER BRONCOS – Jeremiah Owusu-Koromoah, LB, Notre Dame (6006, 218, 4.48e)
Some may argue that a cornerback such as Caleb Farley or Jaycee Horn is the right pick here but I’m looking at this from John Elway’s perspective. Head coach Vic Fangio is on the hot seat and he loves his linebackers. I believe the head coach gets his guy so if the team falters again, the front office can say they did everything they could to give the coach what he wants and, let’s face it – this is an awesome pick. JOK has been a menace for the Fighting Irish this season and despite his smaller stature, the versatile defender won the Butkus Award for the best linebacker in the nation in 2020. He can rush the passer, stop the run and even drop back into coverage. He’d be a true Swiss-army knife for this Denver defense and it would be exciting to see how much Fangio moves him around the field.
14. MINNESOTA VIKINGS – Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas (6061, 309, 5.14e)
The Vikings spent their second-round pick on Boise State tackle Ezra Cleveland last season, and many fans believed he would be their franchise left tackle in a year or two. The thing is, Cleveland has looked very solid at right guard for Minnesota in his rookie year, so why fix something that isn’t broken? Let’s get them a true left tackle to replace Riley Reiff and they’re getting a fantastic talent in Samuel Cosmi. While some have concerns about his core strength, he’s been a lights-out protector for the Longhorns the past two seasons. His deceptive athleticism also makes him a very good bookend to right tackle Brian O’Neill and a wonderful scheme fit. This offensive line with Cosmi, O’Neill, Cleveland and center Garrett Bradbury has the potential to be one of the best in the NFL in 2021.
15. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS -Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama (5096, 182, 4.34e)
With no quarterback of the future available of decent value (sorry, Kyle Trask truthers), New England would be best equipped to use this pick to address their abysmal receiving corps. Jaylen Waddle looked like he was going to explode through Alabama’s first four games but a broken ankle cut his season short. A smaller pass-catcher, Waddle does not play at his listed size at all. He has exceptional hands, truly elite speed, improved route-running and most impressively is his contested catchability. Whoever is quarterbacking for the Patriots next year, they just need to get the ball in his hands. Trust me – it’ll be worth it.
16. CHICAGO BEARS – Rashawn Slater, OT/IOL, Northwestern (6025, 314, 5.25e)
Similar to New England, the Bears would love to take a quarterback in this spot. Problem is, they’re all gone. It’s not awful, however, as Rashawn Slater is another excellent prospect. Another player who opted-out of the 2020 season, the versatile offensive lineman was one of the only humans who made Chase Young look, well… human. He’s not the biggest guy in the world but he’s certainly one of, if not the most multifaceted lineman in this class. Chicago could put him at any spot (yes, even center) on the line, which would only improve this solid unit.
17. LAS VEGAS RAIDERS – Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami (6042, 266, 4.59e)
Not the first Miami pass-rusher you expected, right? The Raiders liked Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell has improved from a poor rookie year, but they need to generate more pass rush. The former No.1 overall recruit coming out of high school, Jaelan Phillips was retired from the sport due to medical issues and has become the physical specimen we have all expected him to be this season. Forget the freak athleticism, what makes Phillips so special is his ceiling.
He’s blowing by dudes with such ease and the technique is starting to show as well. Las Vegas needs help all over their defense but I can’t see general manager Mike Mayock passing up a talent like this.
18. BALTIMORE RAVENS – Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota (6010, 210, 4.52e)
As electric as Lamar Jackson is on his feet, there is still a lot to be desired in the passing game. A big part of the Ravens’ pass game struggles derives from their lack of a big receiver. Outside of Mark Andrews, former third-round pick Miles Boykin has been a disappointment early in his NFL career. Rashod Bateman is just what the doctor ordered, as his size, speed and hands make him one of the safest projections in this class. He’s not as flashy as some of the other wideouts in this class but Bateman would be such a coup for Jackson and the Baltimore offense.
19. *TENNESSEE TITANS (from Washington) – Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami (6045, 260, 4.69e)
Tennessee gives Washington the No.27 pick and the No.90 and receives No.19 and No.159 as well.
Another AFC South team makes a big draft trade. Outside of Harold Landry, this team is devoid of NFL-caliber pass-rushers. In this scenario, they make an aggressive push for a player many had going as high as the top five in the preseason. Rousseau opted-out of the 2020 season for the Miami Hurricanes, which was a questionable move at the time due to his perceived lacking toolbox of pass-rush moves and overall greenness. Regardless, he is still a massive talent and Tennessee has garnered a reputation of adding value in the draft in recent years. This would be another one on the docket.
20. ARIZONA CARDINALS – Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech (6010, 207, 4.40e)
Arizona has invested a ton of resources into building a competent offense around Kyler Murray – let’s help the defense out, huh? Despite having some nice pieces on that side of the ball (Chandler Jones, Isaiah Simmons, Budda Baker), they still need a decent amount of players. The secondary will need some more bodies, especially with Patrick Peterson’s decline of play. Yet another opt-out, Caleb Farley has all of the enticing traits you need in a number-one corner. Outside of his tackling issues, he has vines for arms and fluid movement skills. The more defensive backs the better and Farley could be starting for this team sooner rather than later.
21. MIAMI DOLPHINS – Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas (6031, 253, 4.67e)
After using the Texans’ pick to take their guy at wide receiver, they can use their second first-rounder to help Brian Flores’ defense. Joseph Ossai was a player that I loved off of 2019 tape and the improvement he’s shown as a pass-rusher this year has been a pleasant sight to see. He plays the “VIPER” position for the Longhorns defense and his ability to use his get-off and slipperiness to pressure the quarterback is his calling card. He is another one of those players who can be used in a multitude of ways and you can bet your behind that’s exactly what Coach Flores will do.
22. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS – Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame (6051, 305, 5.12e)
Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht looks like he struck gold in 2020 after selecting offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs, so why not double up? Donovan Smith has been, to put it kindly, a bad football player in recent years. The Bucs should do everything in their power to help Tom Brady during his dog years, and Liam Eichenberg is a “plug and play” left tackle. The Notre Dame pass protector has been one of the most improved players in the country, looking like a potential late Day Three pick last year, though he’s taken a massive step this season. He still needs a bit of work with his framing and foot speed, but at this point, anything is better than what they have at left tackle right now.
23. *SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (from Indianapolis) – Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina (6002, 205, 4.50e)
Some Niners fans wouldn’t be thrilled with a trade down of this magnitude, especially if they also feel that the team should be aggressive in their pursuit for a quarterback. I’m still of the belief that they roll with Jimmy Garoppolo for one more season and have newly-signed Josh Rosen back him up. If they’re not going with a QB in this draft, then it should be a cornerback. Luckily, Jaycee Horn is still on the board.
A big, strong, fluid defensive back, Horn’s stock has been on the rise all season long. He possesses exemplary ball skills and is arguably the best man coverage cornerback in this draft class. Richard Sherman is getting older and outside of oft-injured Jason Verrett, the 49ers don’t have much else. This is a perfect combination of value and need.
24. CLEVELAND BROWNS – Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State (6046, 253, 4.48e)
Finally, FINALLY, the Cleveland Browns are competent again. This new front office and coaching staff have done a great job building a fantastic offense around Baker Mayfield and the team looks destined for its first playoff berth since 2002. While that one side of the ball looks practically set, it’s time to add more pieces to the defense. Jayson Oweh is everything you look for from a pass-rusher athletically and he’s pretty good at football too! Once seen as a mid-round swing for the fences pick, his play in 2020 has rightfully garnered his first-round hype. The Browns could certainly use another linebacker or defensive back but Oweh learning from and playing opposite Myles Garrett? Sign me up for that any day of the week.
25. *JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (from LA Rams) – Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida (6052, 246, 4.62e)
The Jaguars are making out like gangbusters in this draft. Not only do they get the best quarterback available but grabbing the clear-cut top dog at tight end in the mid-’20s? Congrats Jags fans, you won this mock. Pitts has an argument to go as high as the top-ten, as his play this season has been otherworldly. His size, speed, hands and ability to contort his body remind me of a bigger CeeDee Lamb.
Jacksonville hasn’t had a star at the tight end position in a while and Pitts would put up some massive numbers with Trevor Lawrence throwing him the football.
26. *WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (from NY Jets from Seattle) – Kyle Trask, QB, Florida (6036, 240, 5.08e)
Washington trades up to one spot and flips the Jets a 2022 fourth-round pick.
Similarly to the trade that San Francisco and Tampa Bay pulled off in last year’s first round. Arguably the most decisive prospect in this draft class, Florida quarterback Kyle Trask has put up numbers in 2020 but will it translate to the NFL? My reservations come from disappointing arm strength, lack of mobility and downfield accuracy. He’s not without positives, however, he’s a smart quarterback who rarely makes mistakes and doesn’t fold under pressure. Washington needs to add a new face to their quarterback room this offseason and Trask could be a risk worth taking late in the first round.
27. *NEW YORK JETS (from Washington from Tennessee) – Wyatt Davis, IOL, Ohio State (6026, 313, 5.22e)
Well, at least the Jets are using one of their first-round selections on an Ohio State offensive player! In all seriousness, this pick would arguably be the biggest value of the draft. New York needs more players outside of Mekhi Becton on the offensive line and Wyatt Davis is a stalwart right guard who can step in the second he gets on the field and become a Pro-Bowl candidate. Scheme versatile, strong and incredibly technical, Davis has been a linchpin for the Buckeyes. Joe Douglas will need to build as strong of a foundation around Zach Wilson as possible and providing him the proper protection is the correct first step.
28. PITTSBURGH STEELERS – Najee Harris, RB, Alabama (6014, 230, 4.52e)
Run quick, it’s the “running backs don’t matter” crowd! For as devalued this position has become in two years, I still think at least one goes in the first round, and Pittsburgh gets the most deserving candidate. Najee Harris’ stock has climbed up in every season that he’s been with the Crimson Tide, culminating with 27 total touchdowns (and counting!) this season. He’s a huge back with the superb vision, great athleticism and improved pass-catching ability. James Conner is a free agent and his backups Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland aren’t anything to write home about. Harris reminds me a lot of another former Steeler running back in Le’Veon Bell and the latter had a ton of success in this offense. This feels like the perfect fit.
29. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida (5112, 193, 4.38e)
There is a high probability that Drew Brees will retire at the end of the year and the Saints quarterback situation will be in flux. Whoever the quarterback is will need some weapons to throw to, as Emmanuel Sanders is getting older and the depth chart is quite thin outside of Michael Thomas. Kadarius Toney is what a lot of draftniks refer to as a “human joystick” and rightfully so. You’d think this man’s ACL’s were made out of rubber with the cuts and moves he makes. His contact balance is elite and his route running is incredibly underrated as well. The Florida Gators product would be an excellent fit in any NFL offense and his skill-set is nearly identical to that of Washington’s Terry McLaurin.
30. BUFFALO BILLS – Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia (5116, 185, 4.36e)
I apologize to NFL Draft Bible’s own Nick Lamattina, who is certain that Buffalo won’t use their first-round pick on a cornerback. Whether it’s a move they usually don’t make, it’s one that needs to be done. Eric Stokes has had a nice season for the Georgia Bulldogs, picking off four passes and looking good in man coverage. His fluidity, awareness and quick hips make him a very safe prospect in my opinion and his opposite star Tre’Davious White would give Bills Mafia a dangerous duo in the secondary.
31. GREEN BAY PACKERS – Christian Barmore, IDL, Alabama (6046, 310, 5.23e)
Sorry, Packers fans. Another year, another round one where you don’t draft a wide receiver. It’s not all terrible, however, as you’re getting one of the most underrated players in the draft with Christian Barmore. The only defensive tackle worth taking in the first round this season, Barmore is a special talent. His 2019 tape showcased a player who could pressure the quarterback with ease and his play this year has only solidified the hype.
A big combine could have him shooting up draft boards, and in Mike Pettine’s 3-4 scheme, he and Kenny Clark would wreak havoc next to one another.
32. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS – Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU (6031, 200, 4.46e)
The Kansas City Chiefs go back to the wishing well with the last pick of the first round and select another offensive skill-player from LSU for the second consecutive year. With very little receiver depth on the team next season outside of Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman, the Chiefs would be well equipped to add a bigger wide out and Terrace Marshall Jr. would be an awesome fit. Standing in at 6-3, he runs like a gazelle and has the size to be a jump-ball threat in the red zone. The interior offensive line needs some work and the defense still needs a few pieces but when you have Patrick Mahomes, you tend to prioritize his needs.