JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The NFL draft is almost here.
The News4Jax sports staff put together its first-round mock draft, with Justin Barney, Cole Pepper, and Jamal St. Cyr alternating picks starting with selection No. 2. We didn’t include trades in this version.
Pick Team (Who picked) Pos. Player College
1. Jacksonville Jaguars (consensus) — QB Trevor Lawrence (Clemson)
Why: Fans prayed for the Jaguars to be in position to draft Lawrence. The best QB prospect since Andrew Luck and maybe Peyton Manning, is headed to Jacksonville.
2. New York Jets (Justin) — QB Zach Wilson (BYU)
Why: Almost like the Lawrence pick, this is a slam dunk. New York needs a franchise QB. It dealt Sam Darnold. Wilson is the guy for Robert Saleh to build a team around.
3. San Francisco 49ers (Jamal) — QB Justin Fields (Ohio State)
Why: The 49ers traded up so the pick is going to be a QB. Fields is my QB2 in this draft. I have seen Fields play in person multiple times dating back to his high school days. He passes the eye test. A Kyle Shanahan offense with a QB who has Fields’ running ability would be dynamic. I just think back to the magic that Shanahan’s father, Mike, had with RG3 (before the injuries).
4. Atlanta Falcons (Cole) — TE Kyle Pitts (Florida)
Why: The biggest gap between the best and second-best prospect at a position in this draft is at tight end. After Pitts, there is a big gap. The former Gator is a matchup nightmare for corners and safeties. The only knock against him is his ability to stay healthy. If he can do that in the NFL, he could be a transformative player at the position.
5. Cincinnati Bengals (Justin) — OT Penei Sewell (Oregon)
Why: Best offensive linemen in the draft. He’ll help last year’s No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow feel a little bit better about things when he drops back to pass.
6. Miami Dolphins (Jamal) — WR Ja’Marr Chase (LSU)
Why: With Pitts off the board. Chase is the best pass-catcher available. Chase is the top Wide Receiver in the draft. Chase sat out the 2020 season and people seem to have forgotten how impactful he was for LSU in 2020. Chase checks all the boxes for a receiver. The Dolphins go this route because it is important to surround Tua with talented pass catchers to find out if he is truly their QB of the future.
7. Detroit Lions (Cole) — WR Jaylen Waddle (Alabama)
Why: Wouldn’t new Lions quarterbacks coach Mark Brunell be smiling ear to ear if this is the Lions pick. Waddle is the most dynamic receiver in a very deep draft. While he isn’t quite as big as Chase, he can make plays all over the field. Remember, when the season began, he was the number one receiver for the Crimson Tide, not DeVonta Smith. Then an injury took him out for most of the season.
8. Carolina Panthers (Justin) — QB Trey Lance (North Dakota State)
Why: Teddy Bridgewater isn’t the long-term answer. Recently acquired Sam Darnold may just be a one-year rental. Lance is the great unknown among the upper-tier QBs this year. He started just 17 games in his college career, including a 16-0 mark with the Bison in 2019. How will he adjust to NFL competition after facing FCS foes?
9. Denver Broncos (Jamal) — QB Mac Jones (Alabama)
Why: The Broncos are a solid QB away from the playoffs. Drew Lock has given them very little reason to believe he is the QB of the future. Jones will step in and provide some top-level competition. The former Bolles star lands in a perfect spot and will have a familiar face to throw to in Jerry Jeudy.
10. Dallas Cowboys (Cole) — WR DeVonta Smith (Alabama)
Why: The Cowboys have needs at a number of positions, and wide receiver isn’t a major need for the team, but a trio of Cee Dee Lamb, Amari Cooper, and Smith would be a formidable trio for Dak Prescott to throw to as he returns from injury.
11. New York Giants (Justin) — OT Christian Darrisaw (Virginia Tech)
Why: With the top two receivers off the board, the Giants get QB Daniel Jones some help to see if they can give their floundering franchise QB a tad more confidence heading into a make-or-break year.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (Jamal) — OT Rashawn Slater (Northwestern)
Why: Slater is one of the top offensive linemen available in this year’s draft. He can slide in at either tackle spot or kick inside and play guard. This isn’t a major need for the Eagles. But after a string of injuries last season forced them to play with a makeshift O-line for a few weeks, this pick gives that group a major lift.
13. Los Angeles Chargers (Cole) — OT/G Alijah Vera-Tucker (USC)
Why: Last year, they drafted Justin Herbert. This year, they draft a guy to block for him. Easy formula.
14. Minnesota Vikings (Justin) — CB Patrick Surtain II (Alabama)
Why: Free agent signee Patrick Peterson is a stopgap. The Vikings’ defense was rough last year. Surtain is the first defensive player of the board in this year’s draft, giving the Vikings some depth in the secondary.
15. New England Patriots (Jamal) — DL Kwity Paye (Michigan)
Why: With all of the top QBs off the board the Patriots take the top pass rusher in this year’s draft class. The Patriots have a big hole at edge rusher and Paye is the perfect player to fill that hole. He has all the tools to be the Patriots’ next great pass rusher.
16. Arizona Cardinals (Cole) — LB Micah Parsons (Penn State)
Why: This is as much of a value pick as anything here. Parsons is too good to pass up at 16. The Cardinals will worry about finding a place for him to play later.
17. Las Vegas Raiders (Justin) — CB Caleb Farley (Virginia Tech)
Why: The selection of Surtain has triggered a run on defensive players in the draft. With Surtain off the board, Vegas goes with the next-best corner in Farley. Offensive line is also in play here, too, after the team razed that unit in the offseason.
18. Miami Dolphins (Jamal) — CB Jaycee Horn (South Carolina)
Why: The Dolphins couldn’t pass up the value here. Horn is arguably the second-best corner in this year’s draft class. Horn, Xavien Howard, and Byron Jones would give the Dolphins an impressive trio of corners, even though Jones has been a little bit of a letdown since joining the Dolphins.
19. Washington Football Team (Cole) — OT Teven Jenkins (Oklahoma State)
Why: Put simply, Washington needs to improve on both lines. Jenkins is the best offensive lineman available and can play both sides.
20. Chicago Bears (Justin) — WR Kadarius Toney (Florida)
Why: This may be a bit high for the Gators product, but he goes to the Windy City and learns a bit from Allen Robinson while he’s there. He’ll need patience with Andy Dalton and Nick Foles as the QBs.
21. Indianapolis Colts (Jamal) — Edge Jaelan Phillips (Miami)
Why: Phillips has a history of injuries but has elite traits. He could be the top pass rusher in the class if he stays healthy. Edge is one of the biggest needs on the Colts roster. If his medical history checks out this is a no-brainer.
22. Tennessee Titans (Cole) — CB Greg Newsome II (Northwestern)
Why: Tennessee has a 32-year-old Janoris Jenkins penciled in as a starter at one cornerback position. And they’re about to begin playing in a division with Trevor Lawrence. ‘Nuff said.
23. New York Jets (Justin) — LB Jamin Davis (Kentucky)
Why: CJ Mosley opted out last year. Jarrad Davis is on a one-year contract. Blake Cashman had six tackles last year and is projected as the starter at weakside LB. This team needs talent at linebacker.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers (Jamal) — Edge Azeez Ojulari (Georgia)
Why: Steelers lost Bud Dupree in free agency. Ojulari fills that hole and helps to bolster their pass rush.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (all discuss, Cole picks) — DT Christian Barmore (Alabama)
Why: We had plenty to discuss here. Elijah More, Rashod Bateman and Terrance Marshall were all on the board as receivers. So was tight end Pat Freiermuth, whom the Jaguars reportedly really like. It seems a little high for him, especially with the 33rd pick still to come. They could also go with an offensive tackle. There are a handful that fit in the 25-35 range. But we go with Barmore. After losing out on Tyson Alualu, Barmore brings a young, strong presence into the middle of the defensive line. He needs to develop, but when he’s on, he’s tough to handle. As someone once said, “the Lord only made so many big guys, get them when you can.”
26. Cleveland Browns (Justin) — WR Elijah Moore (Mississippi)
Why: The Browns would like to get a corner, but the best ones are already off the board. They go for receiver depth with the productive, albeit, a bit undersized pass catcher in Moore.
27. Baltimore Ravens (Jamal) — LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (Notre Dame)
Why: The Ravens coaching staff is throwing a party for this pick. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is the perfect Ravens defender. He is listed as a linebacker but he can play all over the field. A perfect match for the multiple fronts the Ravens employ.
28. New Orleans Saints (Cole) WR Rashod Bateman (Minnesota)
Why: Michael Thomas is amazing. Alvin Kamara is great out of the backfield. The Saints need more on the offensive side of the ball as they transition into the post-Drew Brees era. Bateman isn’t a big receiver, but he can play outside or in the slot.
29. Green Bay Packers (Justin) — WR Terrace Marshall Jr. (LSU)
Why: Get Aaron Rodgers a receiver before he decides to host “Jeopardy” full-time, will ya’ Pack?
30. Buffalo Bills (Jamal) — TE Pat Freiermuth (Penn State)
Why: The Bills’ offense was fantastic in 2020. Freiermuth adds one more weapon for Josh Allen to throw to.
31. Baltimore Ravens (Cole) — OT Samuel Cosmi (Texas)
Why: After trading Orlando Brown Jr. to the Kansas City Chiefs for a package that included this pick, the Ravens can start to rebuild their offensive line with Cosmi.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Justin) — C Landon Dickerson (Alabama)
Why: A bit of a reach, but there’s never enough protection for iconic Tom Brady. Dickerson has some injury concerns, but he could fit here.
With the first round in the books, remember, the Jaguars have the first pick of the second round, pick No. 33. In our scenario, here are some of the players who the Jaguars could consider with that pick.
Pos. Player (College)
LB Zaven Collins (Tulsa)
LT Liam Eichenberg (Notre Dame)
RB Travis Etienne (Clemson)
RB Najee Harris (Alabama)
S Jevon Holland (Oregon)
RT Jalen Mayfield (Michigan)
C Quinn Meinerz (Wisconsin-Whitewater)
S Trevon Moehrig (TCU)
DT Levi Onwuzurike (Washington)
Edge Jayson Oweh (Penn State)
CB Asante Samuel Jr. (Florida State)
RB Javonte Williams (North Carolina)