By Lenn Robbins
Now that the Wildcard Round of the NFL playoffs is complete and the Divisional Round is upon us, we offer up our first NFL Mock Draft. This is the first in a series leading up to the draft, which begins on, April 29th in Cleveland. It’s unknown at this time if Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield will be featured in a commercial for the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission.
We will update our selections after each round of the playoffs and after the NFL Combine (March 8-11). Because this is our first mock and the order at the bottom of the draft might change as the playoffs progress, there are no trades now.
However, the Jets are perfectly positioned to trade down if GM Joe Douglas does not believe Justin Fields or Zack Wilson is the answer at quarterback. Of course, the Jets first order of business is to decide if Sam Darnold can develop into a franchise quarterback playing for a better head coach and in a more functional environment.
Yes, we live in a world of hope, which is exactly what the NFL promises. Who will find the next Travis Kelce (3rd round, 63rd pick overall, 2013) or the next Richard Sherman (5th round, 154th overall, 2011) or the next Antonio Brown (6th round, 195th overall, 2010)?
- Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson – Jets fans dream of what might have been.
- Jets – Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon – Sewell and last year’s pick, Mekhi Becton = Bookend tackles.
- Dolphins – DaVonta Smith, WR, Alabama – In Tua they trust. In their wide receivers, not so much. It’s a ‘Bama reunion.
- Falcons – Zach Wilson, QB, BYU – Matt Ryan has had a magnificent career. Falcons need to find a player to take the torch.
- Bengals – Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern – Did you see the injury suffered by franchise QB Joe Burrow? ‘Nuff said.
- Eagles – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU – There will be a new coach in Philly so this could change but the dearth of star power at WR is glaring.
- Lions – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama – Receiver is a huge need and Waddle is a fast answer.
- Panthers – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State – So much respect for Teddy Bridgewater but Matt Ruhle is getting paid more than $8.4 million per to turn things around quick.
- Broncos – Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State – They’ve beefed up the receiving corps. Time to beef up the defense.
- Cowboys – Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama – Bama reunion; Trevon Diggs worked out great last season. Surtain II solidifies horrible pass coverage.
- Giants – Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida – The Giants will never know if Daniel Jones is a franchise QB if they don’t get him more talent at WR/TE.
- 49ers – Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State – Bill Belichick was correct, again; Jimmy G not the answer.
- Chargers – Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech – Better make sure Justin Herbert never suffers the same fate as Joe Burrow.
- Vikings – Jaelan Phillips, DE/OLB, Miami – Our favorite defensive player in the draft. They never found a replacement for Everson Griffin and Yannick Ngakoue.
- Patriots – Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue – Our favorite offensive player. Some will say this is too high but he’s an offensive Swiss Army knife who Belichick can deploy.
- Cardinals – Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa – Cards need to get a lot more physical to succeed in the NFL West where Rams, 49ers and Seahawks play with bad intentions.
- Raiders – Caleb Fairley, CB, Virginia Tech – Raiders face Tyreke Hill, Keenan Allen, Jerry Jeudy and friends twice a season.
- Dolphins – Najee Harris, RB, Alabama – Call the Fish ‘Bama south. Sooner or later running back will regain some value. Harris takes pressure off Tua.
- Washington – Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT, USC – The defensive line is spectacular; the offensive line is not.
- Bears – Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota – Bears need weapons – and a QB. We’re just not convinced Mac Jones, who had a senior season for the ages is worth a No.1.
- Colts – Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss – Michael Pittman Jr. is a star in the making but the rest of the receiving corps needs an upgrade.
- Titans – Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan – Wide receiver is tempting here but with the emergence of Leonard Williams, imagine another elite pass rusher. Tennessee couldn’t find the QB with Waze, a Sherpa – you name it.
- Jets – Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami – Sewell and Rousseau may not be sexy picks but they’re foundational players on both sides of the line.
- Steelers – Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa – Devin Bush and Bud Dupree should be back but as coach Mike Tomlin said, Pittsburgh died on the vine.
- Jaguars – Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina – They traded away Jalen Ramsey, the best corner in football, and haven’t come close to filling that hole.
- Browns – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, OLB, Notre Dame – It will be interesting to see what they do with OBJ but O-K makes Myles Garrett more dangerous.
- Ravens – Terrence Marshall, Jr., WR, LSU – A year later Aaron Rodgers finally gets a receiver to complement Devante Adams.
- Bucs – Wyatt Davis, OG, Ohio State – The line played better in the second half of the season but it had some horrendous games (Saints) and lacks depth. Protect Tampa Tom.
- Bills – Joseph Ossai, DE/OLB, Texas – DEs Jerry Hughes (32) and Mario Addison (33) were terrific but Bills need to think about maintaining that relentless defense.
- Saints – Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama – Without Drew Brees next season, the Saints defense will have to be even better.
- Packers – Terrence Marshall, Jr., WR, LSU – A year later Aaron Rodgers finally gets a receiver to complement Devante Adams.
- Chiefs – Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri – Patrick Mahomes compensates for a lot of flaws, such as K.C.’s less than stellar linebacker corps.