1. Jacksonville Jaguars - Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
This is a slam dunk, a fait accompli, the Jaguars not taking Lawrence at number one would be a bigger shock than the Texans taking Mario Williams over Reggie Bush in 2006. It's a done deal and a no-brainer that Lawrence will be firing the pigskin in Duval County...and London too.
2. Carolina Panthers (trade up from #8) - Quarterback Justin Fields, Ohio State
The Panthers, inspired by owner David Tepper, want to make a splash in the quarterback world, so they send the number eight overall, their second rounder and a first rounder in 2022 to move up six spots to take Fields in a mild upset over Zach Wilson. New GM Scott Fitterer has seen "the Russell Wilson Impact" up close and knows Fields' dynamic play will more than satisfy his owner and the Panthers' fan base.
3. Denver Broncos (trade up from #9) - Quarterback Zach Wilson, BYU
The run on quarterbacks early caught the Broncos attention as they traded up to number three, giving up number nine overall, their third rounder and their first next year to Miami for the opportunity to draft Wilson. Having played his ball at BYU, Wilson should seemingly have a built in, local fan base as he attempts to wrestle the starting quarterback job away from incumbent Drew Lock. Remember there's a new sheriff in town GM George Paton who didn't draft Lock, so there's no lock on Lock staying in Denver. No pun intended, wait, yes, there was a pun intended. Sorry.
4. New England Patriots (trade up from #15) - Quarterback Trey Lance, North Dakota State
Quarterbacks have never gone one through four in any draft but Bill Belichick makes that happen by stunning the NFL world by trading with the Falcons. The Patriots give up #15, their second rounder (#46 overall) and a second rounder in 2022. The Falcons, desperately needing to bolster a salary cap strapped roster with youth and edge talent they can find later in the draft, happily take the deal. Lance won't start right away but then Mo Lewis will knock out Drew Bledsoe...oh wait, that's someone else's story.
5. Cincinnati Bengals - Tight end/F-receiver Kyle Pitts, Florida
The game changes in a quick minute with Pitts on the field and Joe Burrow will LOVE throwing to the star from Florida. Pitts is a matchup nightmare for anyone on the defensive side of the ball and the Pitts-Tyler Boyd-Tee Higgins pass catching corps is young but going to be stupid good. The more that I think about this combination, my gosh, the Bengals offense will FUN to watch.
6. Philadelphia Eagles - Linebacker Micah Parsons, Penn State
The Eagles are an interesting spot because of the current quarterback situation. They traded Carson Wentz to the Colts as that relationship disintegrated over the past 24 months. 2020 2nd round selection Jalen Hurts was more than capable in spot starts and I'd roll with him as the starter. Enter Parsons, the best defensive player in this draft, in my humble opinion. Tampa's LaVonte David and Devin White showed the impact of a three down, speedy, attacking and intelligent inside linebacker during Tampa's run to the Super Bowl championship. I almost went receiver here, but there are plenty in free agency and in the rest of the draft, plus they went receiver in the first round last year (Jalen Reagor). As such, the defense gets a bona fide stud in the middle for the next decade.
7. Detroit Lions - Wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
Every member of the Lions receiving corps has the words "Unrestricted free agent" next to his name (minus the recently signed Tyrell Williams and second year Quintez Cephus). Not to mention, it's been a while since the Lions spent a first round pick on a receiver (tongue lodged firmly in cheek). Chase is a classic, do-it-all number one receiver who wins all over the field and in every way possible. The Lions didn't make a move for a rookie quarterback in this draft, so recently acquired Jared Goff will be the one tasked with throwing to Chase in 2021.
8. New York Jets (trade down from #2) - Offensive tackle Penei Sewell, Oregon
The Jets gladly take, arguably, the best offensive lineman in this draft and do so in conjunction with the haul from the Panthers for trading up to the number two overall spot. So, the Jets keep quarterback Sam Darnold for the time being, nab Sewell to play opposite last year's number one draft pick Mekhi Becton and reel in future picks to continue to set them up for the future. There might be a quarterback in their future in this draft...maybe or maybe not.
9. Miami Dolphins (trade down from #3) - Wide receiver DeVonta Smith, Alabama
The best player on the board is Smith. The Dolphins 20th rated passing attack needs a final piece alongside DeVante Parker (63 rec, 793 yards and four touchdowns) and a gaggle of slot types and tight ends. That would make selecting Smith fairly easy for GM Chris Grier and head coach Brian Flores. Furthermore, mercurial pass catcher Preston Williams hasn't been able to stay healthy for the past two seasons. Add all that to the fact that Smith is a game changer at the receiver position and remains the perfect pick on that side of the ball.
10. Dallas Cowboys - Cornerback Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
I flirted with offensive linemen here for the Cowboys with all of the top names, minus Penei Sewell, remaining on the board. But, then I looked up and saw two unrestricted free agents at the cornerback position (Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis), in addition to one at safety (Xavier Lewis), and knew Farley or Surtain II HAD to be penciled into this spot opposite 2020 2nd rounder Trevon Diggs. I chose Farley as he's a better overall match-and-mirror cover guy with prototype cornerback size.
11. New York Giants - Wide receiver/Weapon X Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
When Farley's name is called at number ten, the Giants will sprint the card with Waddle's name to the commissioner. The Giants will get Saquon Barkley back in 2020 but the more offensive weapons for Daniel Jones, the better and they don't get more explosive than Waddle. The Giants draft room will dance a jig when Waddle falls to them at number eleven (honestly, I don't quite see him making it this far, but the way this mock draft fell, the Giants got lucky!)
12. San Francisco 49ers - Cornerback Patrick Surtain II, Alabama
The 49ers cornerback situation is even worse than Dallas' as Jason Verrett, Richard Sherman, Dontae Johnson and Ahkello Witherspoon are all unrestricted free agents this offseason. This slot was as easy as any in the first 11 picks, in my estimation, as the 49ers' defense, now having to face Kyler Murray, Matt Stafford and Russell Wilson combined six times a year, gets a physical corner who can play zone and man with a professional pedigree.
13. Los Angeles Chargers - Offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech
The Chargers drafted a rookie quarterback that has the makings of being one of the great ones in this league for a long time. 2020 Offensive rookie of the Year Justin Herbert was hit 71 times, hurried 85 times and sacked 32 times. That number MUST come down for the Chargers to succeed in the future and that's where Darrisaw is a perfect fit at either tackle or guard position. He can absolutely play left tackle and should be a ten year starter at the position.
14. Minnesota Vikings - Offensive tackle Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
After watching this Vikings offensive line this spring, I'm not totally convinced GM Rick Spielman can pass on a gritty, athletic and versatile lineman like Slater. He's a starting tackle. He could be a starting guard. I actually like either option for a team that would utilize Slater in the proper way.
15. Atlanta Falcons (trade down from #4) - Defensive end Kwity Paye, Michigan
The Falcons come away with a haul from New England (#15 overall, a second rounder this year and a second rounder in 2022). With #15 overall, the Falcosn select, arguably, the most twitched-up edge player in this draft and one heck of a story in Paye. He should step right in and start for a defense that needs pass rush/edge consistency in the worst way. This sequence of events is a great start to Terry Fontenot's GM career in the ATL.
16. Arizona Cardinals - Cornerback Jaycee Horn, South Carolina
Adding J.J. Watt to a healthy Chandler Jones will help the pass rush, but the secondary is a mess with a number of unrestricted free agents potentially departing in the spring. If the concept of "rush and coverage working together" is going to fly in Arizona in 2021, Horn's addition is a must and he's the exact type of aggressive man cover defender that defensive coordinator Vance Joseph will love in his defense.
17. Las Vegas Raiders - Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame
Initially, I penciled in versatile offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker here as there's some question about the makeup of that unit, mainly questions about tackle Trent Brown going forward. Then, I looked at the team's defensive question marks and recalled the team that the Raiders, and the entire AFC, are chasing - the Kansas City Chiefs. JO-K is the type of chess piece that can help on the Chiefs' tight ends and running backs, while still adding to the rush on Patrick Mahomes. The Raiders were bottom ten in the league in most, if not all, defensive categories and Owusu-Koramoah's versatility and speed should bolster this unit that has plenty of draft picks invested
18. Miami Dolphins - Edge Greg Rousseau, Miami, FL
The Dolphins have plenty of pieces on this squad so taking a mild flyer on a small forward with twitch that might need some time to develop isn't detrimental to their overall team building plan. DeVonta Smith at nine was a gift and an extra first rounder in 2022 to trade down was outstanding. If Rousseau hits, though, he'll be the talk of this draft. I went back and forth on Rousseau throughout this entire process but those traits - length, size, first step - are elite and worth the risk at No. 18.
19. Washington Football Team - Offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
Washington hasn't made a first round investment in an offensive lineman since 2015 when they drafted Brandon Scherff in the top five. He's now an unrestricted free agent and even if Washington ups the ante to keep him, there are still holes on that offensive line. AV-T can fill any of them up and down the line of scrimmage at guard or tackle. So, draft him, figure it out and hope that passing on some explosive pass catchers doesn't come back to haunt them. Then again, there are PLENTY of pass catching dudes in this draft in later rounds. There aren't as many AV-Ts, honestly.
20. New York Jets (trade up from #23) - Cornerback Greg Newsome II, Northwestern
The Jets have gone from facing Tom Brady twice a year to facing Josh Allen twice a year. That's a nice way of saying they better find someone, anyone better in coverage out on the perimeter than what they had at that position in 2020. Newsome II is a complete player and steps into a starting spot immediately. It costs them a high fourth rounder (#103 overall), but it's worth it to lock up a top four cornerback in this draft. I thought maybe Mac Jones here, but there's a great shot to nab him at pick #34.
21. Indianapolis Colts - Offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame
Conversation has already started whether Quenton Nelson will move from left guard to left tackle to replace the retired Anthony Castonzo. I do think Nelson could do it, which would open the Colts up to do a few different things with this first rounder. But, off the top of my head, I can't think of any successful guard-to-tackle transitions. However, I could see it with Nelson more than anyone that has ever played that position. Regardless, we'll leave Nelson at guard for now and add the more than capable Irish tackle to the Colts offense at this spot.
22. Tennessee Titans - Edge Jayson Oweh, Penn State
There's little question that the Titans need to add some presence on the edge and find some pass rushers, plural. That's where Oweh comes in. He's not a finished product but he does have elite traits - length, twitch - that will have teams interested in him throughout this round.
23. Chicago Bears (trade down from #20) - Receiver Terrace Marshall Jr., LSU
Now, this is a bit of a stretch, but the receivers I have slotted ahead of Marshall are all slot/Weapon X sorts. The Bears have enough receivers of that ilk, but after Allen Robinson departs in free agency (and he seemingly will), there'll be a hole, literally and figuratively, that Marshall (6-3, 205 lb.) can certainly fill.
Let's discuss Alabama quarterback Mac Jones and why I didn't put him into this spot. I don't think the Bears will continue forward with Mitch Trubisky but finding the next answer at #23 is a difficult one. Jones would be the next on the board, but there's no go-to receiver in Chicago, which could stunt his progress. Think about rookie quarterbacks/young quarterbacks and they all had a go-to guy early in their careers. Deshaun had DeAndre. Patrick had Tyreek and Kelce. Baker had Jarvis. Herbert had Keenan and Mike. Josh Allen didn't get to a different level until he had Stefon Diggs. If the Bears go out and get a free agent receiver or re-sign Allen Robinson, I can make a case for Jones being a more than adequate fit in Chicago. But, as of this date, the Bears are anywhere from $4-$10 million OVER the salary cap. So, bringing back Robinson is going to take some Cap gymnastics for the Bears. As such, the Bears might be better off drafting the young king Marshall, sticking with veteran Nick Foles for the time being and throwing up a hail mary, if you will.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers - Running back Najee Harris, Alabama
Running back James Conner is an unrestricted free agent and Benny Snell Jr. and Anthony McFarland Jr. are not quite number one backs. Harris can be almost immediately in his first year. His senior campaign at Alabama showed he has a much more advanced skill set than when I studied him last summer. He's capable of being a three down back as a rookie next to long-time quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who just recently re-signed for 2021, at a minimum.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars - Safety/Nickel Jevon Holland, Oregon
The only sure thing in the Jacksonville secondary is last year's first rounder C.J. Henderson. What's left over are unrestricted free agents and place holders for rookie starters like Holland. Holland can play a ton of different spots in a number of different schemes. Now, the Jaguars don't have a ton of top notch offensive tackle options at this spot in the draft, but they do have money to spend so I wouldn't be surprised to see them get in on a free agent left tackle and take Holland with this pick.
26. Cleveland Browns - Defensive lineman Christian Barmore, Alabama
Starter Larry Ogunjobi is an unrestricted free agent and there's not much proven depth beyond starter Sheldon Richardson. Barmore has a high ceiling and versatility that should help that Cleveland defense for quite some time. I really thought Holland would be a good fit in this spot and Trevon Moehrig has to be in consideration too. However, 2020 2nd rounder Grant Delpit should return from injury and Ronnie Harrison had some bright moments at the other safety spot. As such, the defensive line needs to be prepared for an Ogunjobi departure with a Barmore addition.
27. Baltimore Ravens - Edge Azeez Ojulari, Georgia
Now, I have Ojulari in my top 16 in the Harris 100 and I had teams interested in him prior to Baltimore's selection. Indianapolis needed a left tackle or an edge with more size. Tennessee considered him but worried about the last two Georgia players (D'Andre Walker and last year's first round Isaiah Wilson) they drafted. Neither one ever played a down in Tennessee so the Titans balked at another Bulldog. Baltimore and GM Eric DeCosta should send a thank you card to the AFC South for passing on Ojulari because the Ravens' defensive ends, rush ends and sam linebackers are all unrestricted free agents. Watching Ojulari on tape, he just FEELS like a Raven too. Good fit.
28. New Orleans Saints - Safety Trevon Moehrig, TCU
Three Saints safeties are unrestricted free agents and with the Cap, uh, issues the Saints have (approximately $55M-$60M OVER the cap at this point), it's highly unlikely they'll be able to bring any of them back in 2021. That opens the door for one of the top two safeties in the game in Moehrig to start his career in New Orleans. He's a wonderful cover safety but one that can come down and play in/near the box to help against the run too.
29. Green Bay Packers - Wide receiver/Weapon X Kadarius Toney, Florida
It would seem obvious that the Packers could use a receiver after last year's polarizing first round decision to draft quarterback Jordan Love. However, HOWEVER, this is less about that singular move and more about getting some twitch in the ball carrying group. Toney isn't a standard Z or X receiver but he's so electric with the ball in his hands and that's going to be in short supply in due time in Green Bay. With running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams both unrestricted free agents and no receivers (outside of Davante Adams) having Toney's change of direction and lightning speed, drafting Toney throws in a multitude of wrinkles to Matt LaFleur's offense. Packers fans, y'all remember when Minnesota added Percy Harvin? Yeah, that's y'all now.
30. Buffalo Bills - Tight end Brevin Jordan, Miami, FL
Admittedly, I'm a fan of Dawson Knox, but the Bills want to expand what they can do at that tight end position in Orchard Park. As such, I'm a much bigger fan of Jordan than most. The receiving skills will get everyone's attention, but his blocking ability is at a higher level than a significant number of tight ends in this class. Quarterback Josh Allen will LOVE Jordan in Buffalo for the next eight to ten years.
31. Kansas City Chiefs - Edge Jaelen Phillips, Miami, FL
It's easy to look at the Chiefs' defensive struggles in the Super Bowl and immediately jump on that "the defense stunk in Kansas City" bandwagon. However, I've been saying that for the past three years. Even in winning the Super Bowl, the Chiefs defense wasn't all that and a bag of chips, in my humble opinion. The pass rush couldn't get to Tom Brady without blitzing, not to mention, three of the top four defensive ends on the roster in 2020 are unrestricted free agents. Phillips is a way more talented/less long armed Tanoh Kpassagnon. If you came to me in a year and told me that Phillips was the best overall edge player in this draft, I wouldn't be surprised. That said, the Chiefs have a number of holes to fill on this squad as five offensive linemen, two receivers, three defensive ends and two secondary starters are all unrestricted free agents. Oh yeah, Patrick Mahomes is still there; they'll be fine.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Weapon X/receiver Rondale Moore, Purdue
Okay, this was fun, actually, to think through. Four Bucs' running backs are unrestricted free agents, including Playoff Lenny aka Leonard Fournette, and two major, contributing wide receivers (Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown) are unrestricted as well. So, how do the Bucs improve in BOTH areas with one addition? Moore is the perfect fit. He adds a speed dynamic that the Bucs really didn't have. He can carry the rock on jet sweeps or wide runs as much as he can work the slot for what essentially turn into long toss plays, i.e. run game carries. This selection should scare the bejeebers out of the AFC South. Brady gets his James White/Julian Edelman-impact all in one player? My gosh. Now, they could look at an edge here, perhaps University of Texas edge Joseph Ossai to replace Shaq Barrett (if he departs as expected in free agency) or Washington edge Joe Tryon to do the same. But, I want to see Moore in this offense with Brady, so my greed reigns on this last pick.
Check out the Harris 100 here!