By Lenn Robbins
With Super Bowl LV behind us, it’s time to put it into high gear for Mock Draft IV. Unlike our previous three mocks, this one includes trades. Although we certainly didn’t plan it this way, the Jets could be big winners. Giants fans might be thrilled if things fall as we’re projecting.
First, a look at some trades:
The Jets trade QB Sam Darnold to the Colts for Indy’s 1st round pick, No. 21.
The Eagles trade QB Carson Wentz to the Bears, for Chicago’s 1st round pick, No. 20.
The 49ers trade QB Jimmy Garoppolo to the Patriots for a 2nd round pick.
The biggest move is made by the Carolina Panthers. They move up to No.3, trading with the Dolphins, thus positioning the Panthers to draft one of the elite quarterbacks in this draft.
Keep in mind that the future of Texans star quarterback Deshaun Watson remains in flux. Watson reportedly has demanded a trade. Nick Caserio, Houston’s new GM, said he has zero interest in trading the star. Something’s got to give.
As colleges hold their pro days, there should be significant change in player rankings. We expect Miami defensive end Jaelan Phillips to improve his stock. The same with Purdue’s versatile RB/WR Rondale Moore.
In this draft, the relentless drive for teams to find their franchise quarterback becomes too strong to overcome. We have the first found picks being used on quarterbacks.
Again, we expect to see some movement between now and the April 29th draft.
- Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson – Every place Urban Meyer has succeeded, he’s developed quarterbacks. Josh Harris was a star at Bowling Green. Utah’s Alex Smith wrote one of the great comeback stories of all time, saved Washington’s season. Tim Tebow won a Heisman at Florida. Braxton Miller and Cardale Jones were terrific QBs at Ohio State. None of them were as heralded as Lawrence, who wowed at Clemson’s pro day.
- Jets – Zach Wilson, QB, BYU – GM Joe Douglas didn’t draft Darnold. He likes him but it’s probably best for both to start over. Gang Green sends Darnold to the Colts. Jets fans rejoice.
- Panthers (from Dolphins) – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State – Mark Ruhle isn’t going to eat up another season with Teddy Bridgewater at QB. He makes the aggressive play to trade up and grab Fields.
- Falcons – Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota St, Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State – The hiring of former Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith as head coach points to Atlanta taking a QB. Smith did wonders with Ryan Tannehill. He’d be a great fit for a young QB who can learn from Matt Ryan.
- Bengals – Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon – Did you see the injury suffered by franchise QB Joe Burrow? ‘Nuff said. There is some talent in Cincy but not on the O-Line. Bottom line, Burrow threw for 2,688 yards in just 10 games. Protect the man.
- Eagles – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU – The Eagles trade Carson Wentz to the Bears clearing the way to build around Jalen Hurts. First order of business is to improve the woeful WR corps.
- Lions – DaVonta Smith, WR, Alabama – Can’t imagine the Lions thinking Jared Goff is their franchise QB. Maybe he can change their mind and prove the Rams wrong. He gets a one year audition aided by the Heisman Trophy winner.
- Dolphins, Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida –In Tua they trust? Backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick says the Fish do. Nothing a young QB needs more to flourish than a quality tight end. Ask Patrick Mahomes.
- Broncos – Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami – The Broncos must decide on the option they hold on DE Von Miller. We expect Phillips to shoot up the board as he goes through pro day and individual workouts.
- Cowboys – Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern – We’ve consistently gone CB here and that may be the case. But Dallas became a top tier team with a dominating O-Line. Slater can play all three spots.
- Giants – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama – Daniel Jones throws himself a ticker tape parade after Waddle slides to the Jints. No team is more in need of playmakers and Jones has to take the next step.
- 49ers – Mac Jones, QB, Alabama – The 49ers send Jimmy G back to Bill Belichick and find their franchise QB. Jones has done nothing the last three months except increase his stock. Don’t let that goofy grin fool you.
- Chargers – Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech – The Chargers made 2 curious (dubious) decisions already. They fired coach Anthony Lynn and hired Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley. Priority 1 – Protect Justin Herbert. Priority 2 – Explain the plan.
- Vikings – Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami – The Vikings have one last season with Kirk Cousins, which could be good or bad. Without a QB of the future, the title window (or so they think) is closing. The Vikes slipped to 29th in defense.
- Redskins – Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT, USC – In this scenario the Redskins are unable to secure one of the top quarterbacks. They sign a veteran (FitzMagic?) and let him compete with Taylor Heinicke? Remember, with this defense the offense doesn’t have to be explosive.
- Cardinals – Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State – Khyler Murray is a magnificent talent but he can’t compensate for his team’s defensive deficiencies like Patrick Mahomes does. Cards need to get a lot more physical to compete with Rams, 49ers and Seahawks.
- Raiders – Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech – Always fun trying to predict the most unpredictable franchise in the NFL. Jon Gruden has finished 4th, 3rd and 2nd. It sounds like progress. But this year’s 2nd-place finished came via an 8-8 record, not a great return on a 10-year, $10 million deal.
- Dolphins – Najee Harris, RB, Alabama – We gave Tua a great weapon in Pitts. We give him another in Harris, a three-down back. Wouldn’t be shocked if the Fish add a WR in Round 2.
- Patriots – Rondale Moore, RB/WR, Purdue – Whoever the QB is, the Pats need playmakers. The 5-foot-9, 180-pound Moore has had some injury issues but he just posted a 42-inch vertical and is ridiculously explosive.
- Eagles (trade with Bears) – Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama – If this is part of the return for trading Wentz, Eagles fans should rejoice. Every year one stud slides for no good reason. Think Derwin James in 2018.
- Jets (trade with Colts) – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, OLB, Notre Dame – Saleh had a linebacker in San Fran by the name of Fred Warner who is an every down impact defender. Give him the Butkus Award winner and let the defensive build begin.
- Titans – Carlos Basham Jr., DE, Wake Forest – Don’t be surprised if the Titans make a run at J.J. Watt. Titans must get more pressure on the QB. Basham shined in Senior Bowl workouts. He and Watt solve that problem.
- Jets – Tevin Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State – Honestly, this would border on the unfair. The Jets would get their QB, an impact LB and a bookend tackle who plays with a mean streak. It’s about time some sun shined on this franchise.
- Steelers – Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa – We’re sticking with this pick, but if J.J. joins brother T.J. the Steelers have to address the O-Line. Maurkice Pouncey announced his retirement.
- Jaguars – Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina – The Jags have never recovered from trading away Jalen Ramsey. Horn is a physical CB loves press coverage. Meyer lucks out twice – first with Lawrence, then with Horn.
- Browns – Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan – The Browns are in a position of luxury. There is no glaring need. Paye is a little raw and didn’t post mind-blowing stats but he has the athleticism to make him attractive.
- Ravens – Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida – We’re guilty of flip-flopping. We’ve had Terrace Marshall Jr. here but Toney can return kicks and is better in the slot. The real issue is how much improvement can Lamar Jackson make as a passer.
- Saints – Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama – There is talk about the Saints taking Florida’s Kyle Trask here. QB usually gets the nod come draft day. But we think they go with a Jameis Winston/Taysom Hill combo in 2021. And a more dominating defense.
- Packers – Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota – The situation in Green Bay gets more fraught. Last year they didn’t get Aaron Rodgers any help. This year Rodgers hasn’t sounded 100-percent all in. Bateman perfectly complements Devante Adams.
- Bills – Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa – The Bills will have to think hard about offensive line help here but the lack of big interior defenders that can keep opposing linemen off their great young linebackers gets the nod.
- Chiefs – Jaylen Mayfield, OT, Michigan – Everyone saw the Super Bowl, right? The Chiefs need to look at the secondary as well. Bashaud Breeland is a FA and he didn’t help his cause. But K.C. addresses its biggest need and protects its No.1 asset.
- Bucs – Azeez Ojulari, LB, Georgia – LBs Shaq Barrett and Lavonte David are free agents. Barrett already has said he wants to break the bank. Chances are Tampa Bay loses one of them.