ROBBINS NEST,The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com
By Lenn Robbins
The promise, on my torn and tattered copy of Friday Night Lights, was to not get sucked into the quarterback vortex. You know, the powerful force that pulls every draft expert into selecting quarterbacks in the first round because, well, they’re quarterbacks; they play the most crucial position in the game.
Blowing the QB pick can be a legacy maker- good and bad.
No GM wants to be remembered as the next Jim Kensil; the Jets GM in 1983 who drafted Ken O’Brien ahead of Dan Marino. Or the next Bobby Beathard, by all accounts a brilliant football mind who had a brain glitch in 1998 when he made Ryan Leaf the No.2 overall pick. Leaf turned out to be a lousy quarterback and an even worse person. He was released after the 2000 season.
In Beathard’s defense, Peyton Manning was the No.1 pick and once he was off the board, well, it was going to be damn hard to find the second-best QB in that draft. The next QB chosen was Charlie Batch, the 60th overall pick. It was a bad quarterback draft made worse by Leaf’s lousy NFL career, if you can call it that.
We should heed the lessons from that draft but times there is one major caveat – times have changed. The quarterback wasn’t nearly as important at the start of the century as it is now. The days of winning a Super Bowl with Trent Dilfer at QB are over.
Despite being spun like a dreidel in a Kansas tornado, we’ve tried to stay true to the importance of finding a QB, yet resisting the urge to overreach. We tried to strike a happy medium in our final two-round mock draft
- Jaguars – Travon Walker, Edge, Georgia – Can’t remember the last time a DL had this meteoric rise. Todd McShay had him going 16th in his first post-Super Bowl mock.
- Lions – Aiden Hutchinson, DE, Michigan – Do the Lions need a QB? Yes. But not with the No.2 pick. Hometown boy makes good.
- Texans – Ikem Ekwonu, OT, N.C. State – Lovie Smith wants to assemble a physical team. Meet Mr. Physical.
- Jets – Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon – Robert Saleh is on record: Nothing makes a defense better than an effective pass rush.
- Giants –– Evan Neal, OL, Alabama – Not until Daniel Jones gets real protection will we know if he’s a franchise QB.
- Panthers – Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh – Saw him as a sophomore and knew then. Forget the small hands.
- Giants – Sauce Gardner, CB, Cincinnati – The Giants certainly could go LB/Edge here which would put FSU’s Jermain Johnson II in play. But a lockdown corner is hot sauce.
- Falcons – Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama – The closest player in this draft to Tyreek Hill.
- Seahawks– Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State – Pete Carrol loves power football. RB Rashaad Penny might have a monster year.
- Jets – Derek Stingley, CB, LSU – This defense just went from gangrene to Gang Green.
- Commanders – Malik Willis, QB, Liberty – Carson Wentz lost two NFL locker rooms.
- Vikings – Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame– Minny has had the blessing of Harrison Smith at safety. But he’s 33. Enter Hamilton.
- Texans – Drake London, WR, USC– Our favorite WR in the draft because of his size, strength and contested-ball fight.
- Ravens – Jermaine Johnson II, DE, FSU – That underwhelming pass rush just a got a whole lot better. Heck, the entire defense did.
- Eagles – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State– Jalen Hurts needs WRs help, the way Daniel Jones needs OL help.
- Saints – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State – Cue Sade’s Smooth Operator.
- Chargers – Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia – Davis is 350-plus pounds of a stop sign. Warning: What if he balloons to a 380-pound yield sign?
- Eagles – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah – Philly saw what Micah Parsons did for the Cowboys. Is Lloyd that good? No. But he immediately becomes the best LB on the roster.
- Saints –- George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue – The Saints are wiggling out of cap hell and Cam Jordan will be 33.
- Steelers – Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa – Mitch Trubisky got a two-year deal. In other words, he proves himself in 2022 or the Steelers go QB shopping in 2023.
- Pats – Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington – BeliLuck – This marvelously talented and highly competitive DB falls.
- Packers – Christian Watkins, WR, North Dakota State– Not many rookies from the FCS level come into the league and have a future Hall of Fame QB.
- Cardinals – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas – Chris Kirk is gone and AJ Green is fading. Perfect complement to Rondale Moore.
- Cowboys –Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa – The worst-kept secret in football is out: The Cowboys once-vaunted O-Line is a shell.
- Bills – Andrew Booth, Jr., CB, Clemson — Tre’Davious White is returning from ACL surgery and Levi Wallace walked in free agency.
- Titans – Kenyon Green, OG, Texas A&M– When you’re No.1 weapon is named Derrick Henry, better make sure he’s running behind a physical line.
- Bucs – Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia – The change from Bruce Arians to Todd Bowles is significant, as is the fact that Ndamukong Suh remains unsigned.
- Packers –Arnold Ebiketie, Edge, Penn State– If GM Aaron Rodgers signs off on a non-wide receiver, Green Bay should replace Za’Darius Smith.
- Chiefs – Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State – Still can’t fully grasp the Chiefs trading away Tyreek Hill and believe they will try to package these two picks to move up.
- Chiefs – Kaiir Elam, Florida CB – The Chiefs will now face Watson, Justin Herbert and Derek Carr twice a season and lost their best CB in free agency.
- Bengals – Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington – Eli Apple played better in Cincy then he did in NY or New Orleans but who got beat on the Rams winning TD pass?
- Lions – Zion Johnson, OG, Boston College – Tackles are great; interior line not so much.
- Jaguars – Daxton Hill, S, Michigan – Philly Special for Doug Pederson.
- Lions – Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati – Lions think Jared Goff is the guy, right? Wrong.
- Jets – George Pickens, WR, Georgia – Was a top tier receiver before ACL tear
- Giants – Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia – A leader and a playmaker
- Texans – David Ojabo, Edge, Michigan – Before his Achilles injury he was a Top 10 pick.
- Jets – Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa – Mekhi Becton’s health and the depth need to be addressed
- Bears – Bernhard Raimann, OG, Central Michigan – QB Justin Fields just got better.
- Seahawks – Matt Coral, QB, Mississippi – Drew Lock? Nope
- Seahawks – Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan, especially if they trade DK Metcalf.
- Colts – Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State – Matt Flynn loves his tight ends.
- Falcons – Boye Mafe, Edge, Minnesota – Atlanta hasn’t seen this much construction since the 96 Olympics.
- Browns – Travis Jones, DT, Connecticut – Browns need a run-stuffer. Done.
- Ravens – Lewis Cine, S, Georgia – Hits harder than Mike Tyson on a JetBlue flight.
- Vikings – John Metchie III, WR, Alabama – Joins Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen.
- Commanders – Darian Kinnard, OL, Kentucky – Malik Willis, make friends with Mr. Kinnard.
- Bears – Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn – Complement to Jaylon Johnson. Good compliment.
- Saints – Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina – An undersized QB with a great feel, hmm.
- Chiefs – Wan’Dale Robinson, WR, Kentucky – No one is Hill but meet this Kentucky racehorse.
- Eagles – Jalen Pitre, S, TCU – Philly’s back end just got a lot faster.
- Steelers – Phidarian Mathis, DT, Alabama – Curtain needs more roads.
- Packers – Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama – The WR room – follow signs for Romper Room.
- Patriots – Cole Strange, OL, UT-Chattanooga – Free agent losses mean an OL pick is essential.
- Cardinals – Breece Hall, RB, Iowa St. – Edmunds is gone and Connors is going.
- Cowboys – Nick Bonitto, OLB, Oklahoma – Boys need another edge rusher.
- Bills – Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan St. – In case QB Allen wants to hand off occasionally.
- Falcons – Perrion Winfrey, DL, Oklahoma – See pick No. 43.
- Packers – Alec Pierce, WR, Cincinnati – They’ve had a bird’s eye view of Adam Thielen.
- Buccaneers – Daniel Faalele, OL, Minnesota. – The O-Line losses need to be addressed
- 49ers – Kingsley Enagbare, DE, South Carolina – Keeping the QB pressure on.
- Chiefs – Sam Williams, DE, Mississippi – Must get pressure to thrive in the AFC West.
- Bengals – Myjai Sanders, DE, Cincy – No need for directions around town.
- Broncos – Quay Walker, LB, Georgia – No wonder Georgia won the national title.