By Ryan Roberts | @RiseNDraft
Halfway through the season, the NFL Draft landscape is becoming a bit more clear… at least the draft order anyway. With that order in mind, let’s see what some teams may be thinking as we trend closer to the big day in April.
Some rules for this mock, the draft order is based on their current projection in regards to win-loss record. So if you aren’t happy with your team’s slot, send concern to your team’s front office and 2020 performance.
Yes, I know a lot of these projections will not be right. In this perfect world, I am the general manager… but I am not alone. A lot of the players you see will be according to what I would do in the situation. However I am going to consider team philosophy and the rumor mill to format some decisions.
On that note, pop a squat, relax and let’s fix some football teams. Let the midseason mock officially begin!
1. New York Jets: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Starting this 2021 NFL mock draft off with a shocker, I know. Even with Fields playing out of his mind, don’t overthink this. The word generational is thrown around way too much. Lawrence is indeed a generational talent at the position. Run the card to the podium and never look back.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Remember when people tried convincing us that Gardner Minshew was good enough to make Jacksonville pass on a quarterback? Odd times. Fields is the type of dual threat signal-caller that marks a new era of Jaguars football. He is currently playing out of his mind during the 2020 season.
3. Dallas Cowboys: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
This is operating under the assumption that quarterback Dak Prescott is back with the Cowboys under a new long term contract. In that reality, protecting your most important asset becomes paramount… especially behind an offensive line that can’t stay healthy. Both Tyron Smith and La’el Collins are tough to depend on. Enter in arguably the top offensive tackle prospect in the last decade. Penei Sewell is an immediate upgrade from the very beginning.
4. New York Giants: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
This was arguably the toughest decision of this mock draft. For the record, I am not a Daniel Jones guy… never have been. From the sound of it, however, Daniel Jones may be afforded more time from Joe Judge and staff. So let’s give them a defensive identity. Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons has the athletic profile to fit a variety of roles for a defense.
5. Washington Football Team: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
The quarterback position for that football team in Washington has been a rollercoaster this season. There doesn’t seem to be any turning back to Dwayne Haskins. Trey Lance offers the type of talent at the position that may be reminiscent of Ron Rivera’s tenure in Carolina with Cam Newton. Let the Trey Lance era begin!
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
Jaycee Horn at #No.6?! Are you insane? Maybe just a little. If you follow along, you know that the Jaycee Horn rise is something I have been predicting since the Summer. There is no better press man corner in the 2021 NFL Draft class. Combine that with physicality and an NFL pedigree and we have the best defensive back to come out of South Carolina since Stephon Gilmore was selected tenth overall in the 2012 NFL Draft.
7. Miami Dolphins (via Houston): Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
The offensive line is dramatically improved so far for the Dolphins. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa looks like he’s trending in the right direction. It’s time to get Tua more weapons to build with. LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase may be the most overthought prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft. Hand strength, alpha mentality and underrated speed, Chase is a potential high volume pass catcher early on in his NFL career.
8. New England Patriots: Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami (Fl.)
The Patriots love versatile defensive lineman. With outstanding length and growth potential, Rousseau has the ability to provide rush versatility for a defense. He is far from a finished product… which is scary itself. The upside here is massive.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
Breaking news: The Bengals offensive line is a problem. Improving that unit is the top priority to protect quarterback Joe Burrow. The opinion on Samuel Cosmi seems to be all over the place. There is a concern over his power profile but he has every athletic gift to project favorably as a blindside protector moving forward.
10.Carolina Panthers: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
Am I fully bought into Zach Wilson? No, not currently. It is hard to ignore some of the flash plays he has put on to tape thus far in 2020. So, while I am not sure I love the value going top ten, the fit with the Panthers is just so interesting. I would love to see how he meshed with the Joe Brady offense.
11.Atlanta Falcons: Patrick Surtain Jr., CB, Alabama
Seeing back-to-back first round picks on cornerbacks isn’t typical but the spot opposite rookie A.J. Terrell is in dire need of an injection of talent. There aren’t many better cornerback prospects technically than Surtain. He also has the length and athleticism to consistently affect the catch point.
12.Detroit Lions: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
There may potentially be some extreme turnover in the wide receiver group for the Lions this offseason. Marvin Jones Jr. is almost a guarantee not to retur next season. Kenny Golladay will hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent. Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle would go a long way in remedying that absence of proven playmakers. If Golladay is back, Waddle will bring a dynamic element that is currently absent from the corps.
13.Minnesota Vikings: Trey Smith, OG, Tennessee
Ezra Cleveland has done an admirable job working inside at guard for the Vikings. Dru Samia was an absolute disaster as a starting option and Dakota Dozier wasn’t much better. Trey Smith immediately becomes the most physically dominant interior player on the Minnesota roster. If Smith checks out physically, he could very well be a top ten player overall in the class.
14.Denver Broncos: Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
A.J. Bouye has been pretty underwhelming for the Denver Broncos so far when he’s been on the field. They have received some solid contributions from rookie Michael Ojemudia and Bryce Callahan. Even so, outside cornerback is a position that can clearly be upgraded for the team. Stokes is in the middle of a breakout campaign. Blessed with prototypical size (6’+) and speed (projected 4.3 40), Stokes has the athletic profile to potentially fill a role as a team’s top cornerback.
15.San Francisco 49ers: Wyatt Davis, OG, Ohio State
Injuries on the offensive line have been a problem for the 49ers… as well as the rest of the team for that matter. Laken Tomlinson and Daniel Brunskill currently man the guard positions in a team that could be in line for a massive upgrade. This need aligns with value here in the form of Ohio State’s Wyatt Davis. You want a fun film? Go watch Davis and center Josh Myers combo to the second level frontside on zone. It’s quite the experience.
16.Chicago Bears: Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
The Bears are another team that could use upgrades all over their offensive line. Here they get their new starting right tackle almost immediately. Mayfield is a talented offensive lineman who has taken his game to a much higher level in 2020. Blessed with great size and light feet, Mayfield has Pro Bowl upside moving forward.
17.Cleveland Browns: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Linebacker is clearly the position of weakness for the Cleveland Browns defensively. Mack Wilson, Sione Takitaki, B.J. Goodson, Malcolm Smith and Jacob Phillips aren’t going to cut it. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah isn’t a perfect fit into your traditional linebacker role on the next level. What he is, however, is an athletic second level defender who can affect an offense on all three downs.
18.Indianapolis Colts: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
This is an odd spot for a quarterback needy team. Let’s set up whoever the next signal caller is after Phillip Rivers with a mismatch nightmare at the tight end position. Big slot, tight end, h-back, wide receiver, pass catcher… call him whatever you want. I’ll call him a quarterback’s best friend.
19.Philadelphia Eagles: Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse
The Eagles haven’t selected a linebacker in the first round of the NFL Draft since 1979. I’m not going to predict that trend to change with how Jim Schwartz undervalues second level defenders. So let’s help what is still an underwhelming secondary for the Eagles. The deep zone impact that a player like Cisco can have makes everyone around him better. He is a playmaker, recording 13 interceptions in just 24 career games for the Orangemen.
20.Arizona Cardinals: Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
The year 2020 has not been a memorable one, especially for Ohio State cornerback Shaun Wade. He has the notable upside to project favorably as a plus starting option on the next level. If he fails on the outside, he has shown a lot of promise inside at nickel and safety during his career… giving a potential suitor versatility on the backend.
21.Miami Dolphins: Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
The Dolphins defense is showing a lot of problems in 2020. One area of concern is at linebacker, where there are more question marks, than there are answers. Missouri linebacker Nick Bolton brings instincts and physicality to the position that is sorely lacking. Don’t fall victim to the lack of height, Bolton is an outstanding football player.
22.Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR): Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
Every young quarterback needs a safety valve. Pat Freiermuth immediately provides a big body pass catcher who has soft hands working through contact, especially in the red zone. There is versatility that Freiermuth can provide in the run and pass game.
23.Las Vegas Raiders: Patrick Jones II, DE, Pittsburgh
Former first round pick Clelin Ferrell has been a huge bust thus far during his Raiders career. Maxx Crosby needs a bookend on the other side of him. Patrick Jones has the athletic profile and length to consistently threaten the pocket.
24.Tennessee Titans: Azeez Ojulari, OLB, Georgia
Harold Landry has developed into a really talented pass rusher, despite a slow start to the 2020 season. On the other side, Jadeveon Clowney has failed to provide the pressure that they team was hoping for. Azeez Ojulari is one of the big risers of the 2021 cycle so far and would fit perfectly as a rush backer in the Titans 3-4 alignment.
25.Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Carson Strong, QB, Nevada
Who? Nevada quarterback Carson Strong is the most talented signal caller that you don’t know enough about. For the record, Strong is more likely a 2022 entree than 2021. However if he does make the leap, I am all in. Strong possesses incredible arm talent, a prototypical frame and is really starting to figure it all out. Plus, learning for a year from Tom Brady is a pretty nice situation for the redshirt sophomore.
26.New York Jets (via Seattle): Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
The lead ball-carrier for the Jets right now is 98 year-old Frank Gore… not ideal. Let’s reunite Trevor Lawrence with his backfield running mate Travis Etienne. The Jets are in need of playmakers, however they can get them. With big play speed and impact in the passing game, Eitenne brings is a welcome addition to a Jets team that lacks dynamic ability in space.
27.Baltimore Ravens: Kwity Paye, OLB, Michigan
It appears likely that Matt Judon could be on his way out of Baltimore after this season. The depth behind Judon remains relatively unproven and uninspiring. Kwity Paye fits the mold that the Ravens have valued at the position. Quick, twitchy and physical, Paye is a well-rounded rusher who is just tapping into his athletic gifts.
28.Buffalo Bills: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
The Bills cornerback situation is in dire need with Josh Norman currently starting opposite of Tre White without any depth behind him. This is a longer fall for Caleb Farley than most probably anticipated; the talent is outstanding. There are inconsistencies that some are trying to ignore. At this juncture, this high upside cornerback lands in a great situation.
29.Green Bay Packers: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
I refuse to let the Packers leave 2021 without upgrading the wide receiver unit, like they did this past year. Outside of Davante Adams, the position lacks dynamic ability to create explosive plays consistently. Enter Purdue wide receiver Rondale Moore, who is a highlight reel waiting to happen. He brings a YAC ability that is currently absent on the roster.
30.Kansas City Chiefs: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
The rich keep getting richer. Demarcus Robinson and Sammy Watkins are set to hit free agency after the season and no real reason to bring either back. Bateman could bring something to the Chiefs wide receiver group that they are currently missing… a physical, outside playmaker who wins at the catch point, in addition to being a really nice route runner.
31.New Orleans Saints: Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
There’s a lot of fanfare around Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses. There is no questioning his talent but it hasn’t fully clicked on the field this season coming off a leg injury. The latter stages of the first round seems like an appropriate spot for this type of upside with streaky film.
32.Pittsburgh Steelers: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
Veteran Alejandro Villanueva is getting long in the tooth and nearing the end of a very solid career. Zach Banner remains a relative unknown as a starting option after being lost for the majority of the season with an ACL injury. That leaves Chukwuma Okorafor as the lone offensive tackle who has been able to show a small amount of long term promise. Christian Darrisaw has been playing on a high level this 2020 season. In a lot of ways, he mirrors former Hokies star Duane Brown physically.
Perfect, right? Leave it for the reviews. A toast to better football days ahead for your favorite team. The second half of the 2020 NFL season is sure to bring some great moments, odd trends and bizarre outcomes. Enjoy!
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