Mock Draft 2.0
This has been one of the most intriguing run ups to the NFL Draft in recent years.
In just over a month since my first mock draft, trades and free agency moves have caused a number of NFL team managers to rethink their strategies. San Francisco, Miami and Philadelphia engineered trades that have stirred up the order of the early first round and Sam Darnold's trade to Carolina took them out of the race for one of the top quarterbacks.
With three weeks to go until the draft, I think there will be more twists and turns to come. The 49ers made a dramatic jump to No.3 so they have the best chance of picking the quarterback to lead them for the next ten years. With Deshaun Watson seemingly off the market while he addresses his legal issues and Seattle fending off Chicago's overtures to Russell Wilson, the best chance of landing top QB talent sits in the draft. New England, Denver and Chicago could yet move up and follow San Francisco's lead. Atlanta, at No.4 and Carolina, at No.8 seem ripe targets for teams keen to trade up.
Let's see what happens. In the meantime, here is my second mock draft:
1 Jacksonville Jaguars - Trevor Lawrence - QB, Clemson
One of college football's brightest talents in Lawrence joins one of it's most successful coaches, Urban Meyer, in the NFL. Jacksonville begins a new era.
2 New York Jets - Zach Wilson - QB, Brigham Young
Sam Darnold is off to Carolina. Welcome to New York, Zach Wilson. The arrival of Wilson with an additional first round pick this year and two firsts next year gives Robert Saleh a great opportunity to build something special in the Big Apple.
3 San Francisco 49ers (from Miami, via Houston) - Mac Jones - QB, Alabama
A dramatic trade sees the 49ers leap nine places up the board to take advantage of a talented quarterback class. Not many (me included) predicted this would be the signal caller taken here but Jones is a winner, highly intelligent and can learn quickly. Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch were in Tuscaloosa to watch his pro day and are ready to hand him the keys to the 49ers' offense.
TRADE - New England Patriots trade their No.15 pick plus additional draft picks with Atlanta to move up to No.4
4 New England Patriots (from Atlanta) - Justin Fields - QB, Ohio State
FOX's NFL Analyst Peter Schrager called it and I have to agree. Atlanta have been making noises about trading down. Matt Ryan has time in Atlanta and the Falcons desperately need defensive help, so can add this later with the help of some extra draft picks. The Patriots still back Cam Newton for a season or two, and this gives the talented Fields time to learn under an experienced NFL quarterback who plays very much in his style.
5 Cincinnati Bengals - Penei Sewell - OT, Oregon
Kyle Pitts and Ja'Marr Chase would be great optios for Joe Burrow here but Cincinnati needs a full season from their quarterback if they are to improve and Sewell offers great protection alongside former first round pick Jonah Williams. They can get a receiver in Round 2.
6 Miami Dolphins (from Philadelphia) - Ja'Marr Chase - WR, LSU
I'm sticking with my original pick here. Chase is the best receiver in the draft and gives Tua Tagovailoa a legitimate downfield threat. They have another first round pick to add further help.
7 Detroit Lions - Devonta Smith - WR, Alabama
As with my first mock draft, I have an Alabama receiver going here. Kyle Pitts could fit here alongside TJ Hockenson, but the Kenny Golladay trade means Detroit are desperate for receiving help. I'm picking Heisman Trophy winner Smith here though, I don't buy the questions about his toughness and he is a superb route runner.
8 Carolina Panthers - Kyle Pitts - TE, Florida
With Sam Darnold now under center in Charlotte, Carolina could be another target for teams looking to trade up. In this mock, however, they stay put to give their new quarterback a unique offensive weapon in Pitts, arguably the best tight end to come out of the college ranks in years and with Christian McCaffrey, will give opposing defenses nightmares.
9 Denver Broncos - Trey Lance - QB, North Dakota State
Denver is unconvinced by Drew Lock and John Elway loves taking a quarterback in the draft. Lance, thought by some to be one of the best long-term prospects, falls into their lap at No.9. This gives him time to develop and Lock some motivation to hold on to the starting job.
10 Dallas Cowboys - Patrick Surtain II - CB, Alabama
Jerry Jones is said to be smitten with Kyle Pitts but unless they trade up for him, he won't last this long in the first round. With Dak Prescott returning to lead a talented offense, the Cowboys desperately needs to tighten up their defense and Surtain will add aggression and savvy to their secondary.
11 New York Giants - Kwity Paye - DL, Michigan
There are options here for the Giants. They could look at the offensive line or wide receiver but the defense needs attention and Paye gives New York some much needed rushing pressure off the edge
12 Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami) - Jaylen Waddle - WR, Alabama
Great trade result for the Eagles. I had mocked Ja'Marr chase to them at No.6 in my first mock. Here, they reunite newly designated QB Jalen Hurts with his former Alabama team mate and premier receiver. Jaylen Waddle and additional draft picks? Well played, Eagles.
13 LA Chargers - Rashawn Slater - OT, Northwestern
There isn't much to choose between Slater and Penei Sewell as the top offensive tackles in the draft and this is a nice pickup for the Chargers. Slater, with free agency signing Corey Linsley gives quarterback Justin Herbert a solid platform to build on after his promising rookie season.
14 Minnesota Vikings - Gregory Rousseau - DE, Miami
Fellow Miami Hurricane Jaelan Phillips could have been a good fit for Minnesota here, but I'm sticking with Rousseau. The explosivity he showed during his 15.5 sack season in 2019 (he opted out last year) will add much needed bite to a disappointing Vikings defense.
15 Atlanta (from New England) - Micah Parsons - LB, Penn State
Like the Eagles, Atlanta trades down and still lands an elite player who can help their insipid defense. As mentioned in my first mock, Devin White and Lavonte David highlighted the impact of a star linebacker in the Bucs' Super Bowl win. The Falcons will be thrilled to get Parsons here and add a crucial foundation of their rebuilding defense.
16 Arizona Cardinals - Jaycee Horn - CB, South Carolina
Horn has leapt up draft boards with impressive showings at recent workouts. Son of former NFL wide receiver Joe, he is a rangy corner at 6'1" and aggressive in his pressing play. He would slot right in to the Cardinals' secondary.
17 Las Vegas Raiders - Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah - LB, Notre Dame
Compared to Derwin James, Owusu-Koramoah is a defensive playmaker capable of elite coverage and aggression rushing the passer. He will add nicely to the aggressive defense that Jon Gruden loves.
18 Miami Dolphins - Najee Harris - RB, Alabama
The Dolphins give Tua more help with the best running back in college football pairing up nicely with the best receiver in Ja'Marr Chase. Harris is a tough back, talented pass catcher and selfless team mate. Although he wasn't working out, he drove nine hours to Alabama's pro day purely to help and cheer on his fellow Crimson Tide players. Great addition to Miami's locker room.
19 Washington Football Team - Christian Darrisaw - OL, Virginia Tech
Washington have a talented options on offense and an increasingly scary defensive line. Darrisaw, a solid offensive lineman and three-year starter for the Hokies, comes in to protect the evergreen new quarterback addition Ryan Fitzpatrick.
20 Chicago Bears - Rashod Bateman - WR, Minnesota
I'm sticking with Bateman as the pick here. Chicago is interested in a quarterback, as shown by their aggressive pursuit of Russell Wilson. but they're too far down here to snag one of the top five. They may trade up, but if they don't, Rashod Bateman gives free agent QB addition Andy Dalton a speedy outlet and valued yards after the catch.
21 Indianapolis Colts - Caleb Farley - CB, Virgina Tech
I'd mocked Jaycee Horn here initially, but I think the Colts have a better option if Farley is still available. His recent back surgery has made teams a little nervous but he is said to be ready for training camp and was previously considered the best corner in the draft alongside Patrick Surtain. A steal for Indianapolis.
22 Tennessee Titans - Greg Newsome II - CB, Northwestern
Another rising cornerback. Newsome is a tall, athletic player who excels at breaking up passes. The Titans also need pass rushing help, but Newsome is an excellent prospect.
23 New York Jets (via Seattle) - Travis Etienne - CB, Clemson
I know the rule normally is not to draft running backs too high, but Etienne is a special player and gives new rookie quarterback Zach Wilson a strong running game and pass catching option out of the backfield. The Jets are loaded with high draft picks and can add receiving and offensive line help later.
24 Pittsburgh Steelers - Samuel Cosmi - OT, Texas
I'm sticking with Samuel Cosmi here. Although the Steelers need help in a few positions, Cosmi is a 6'7", 300lb lineman who has played both left and right tackle. He slots straight in and protects Ben Roethlisberger for another season.
25 Jacksonville Jaguars (via LA Rams) - Asante Samuel Jr. - CB, Florida State
Samuel, the son or a former NFL cornerback is an underrated defensive specialist, with strong coverage and pressing skills. He stays in Florida to beef up the Jaguars' secondary with their second pick in this first round.
26 Cleveland Browns - Christian Barmore - DL, Alabama
With one of the league's elite pass rushers on the edge in Myles Garrett, Barmore gives them extra help on the defensive front line. He was outstanding for national champions Alabama, particularly in the latter half of the season.
27 Baltimore Ravens - Kadarius Toney - WR, Florida
I'm sticking with the dynamic Florida receiver here. Toney is a versatile offensive playmaker who can also line up in the backfield add value on special teams. He will dovetail brilliantly with the unpredictable Lamar Jackson.
28 New Orleans Saints - Teven Jenkins - OT, Oklahoma State
Jenkins remains here too from my first draft. He is an enormous presence on the offensive line, which will need to be rock solid as New Orleans beds in Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill in the post-Drew Brees era.
29 Green Bay Packers - Zaven Collins - LB, Tulsa
I was tempted to pick a corner here but new Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry is rumoured to want to give Josh Jackson an increased role and Kevin King another chance. Green Bay needs help in the linebacking corps and Collins is a versatile linebacker with four interceptions this year, two of which he returned for touchdowns.
30 Buffalo Bills - Jaelan Phillips - EDGE, Miami
In Gregory Rousseau's absence, Phillips dominated the pass rush for Miami. With Matt Milano staying in Buffalo, Phillips adds another dimension to the Bills' defense as they push for the Super Bowl.
31 Kansas City Chiefs - Landon Dickerson - C, Alabama
Patrick Mahomes needs help up front to work his magic with the Chiefs' offense and regain their Super Bowl crown. Dickerson is returning from an ACL injury but recovering well and can give Kansas City's offensive line a needed boost.
32 Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Rondale Moore - WR, Purdue
Antonio Brown's likely departure gives the Bucs an opportunity to add the electric receiver whose speed can stretch the field for Tom Brady. At 5'7", Moore is small for an NFL wideout, but his pace will create gaps for him and fellow Bucs' receivers. Moore is also an excellent return specialist.