Happy Draft Day! Even after months of speculation, big boards, and mock drafts, I still have no idea what is going to happen tonight thanks to Covid-19. Pro Days were cancelled, teams couldn’t meet in person with players, and, most importantly, teams weren’t able to have their doctors meet with players. Outside of the first two picks, everything is up in the air. There are plenty of trades that could happen tonight, plenty of players who could fall, and plenty of technical glitches that could happen during this virtual draft. With all that being said, here is my final attempt to predict what will happen in the first round, and no, I did not predict trades here. Check out my picks and analysis below, as well as my bold predictions for the draft, my player rankings by positions, and teams who could be looking to move up and move down. Happy drafting everyone, if you need me I’ll be on Zoom with an order of buffalo wings and a 12 pack in front of me.
1. Cincinnati Bengals: QB Joe Burrow, LSU
I have had Joe Burrow to the Bengals set for months, and right before the draft, I am not changing my mind. Joe Burrow has done literally everything he’s needed to in order to deserve to be the number 1 pick. He won the Heisman Trophy easily with the greatest statistical season a college quarterback has ever had, and he led an undefeated team to a national championship. He has solid size, arm strength, mobility, and unbelievable pocket presence. He’s from Ohio, so the fan’s will love having their homeboy return. Yes, he might be a one-year wonder, so there is a risk that maybe he flames out in the NFL. With that being said, the only reason the Bengals do not take him at 1 is that he has told them he doesn’t want to play there, and they trade the pick. You can write this one in, Joe Burrow will be a Bengal.
2. Washington Redskins: Edge Chase Young, Ohio State
Chase Young is the best player in this class, and if it weren’t for the fact that Joe Burrow is a quarterback, he would be the number 1 pick. The rumors lately have been that Washington is settled on taking Young to give Ron Rivera a dominant pass rusher and an unbelievably talented defensive line (might be the best in football). Dwayne Haskins is hosting their online draft party, so I find it really hard to believe they would take a QB high with him in that position. Pencil Young into this pick.
3. Detroit Lions: CB Jeffery Okudah, Ohio State
This pick is very likely to be traded to a team like the Chargers or Dolphins who are looking to move up to secure the quarterback of their choice, but even if Detroit moves back, it’s very likely Okudah, the best cornerback prospect since Jalen Ramsey, ends up with the Lions. He provides an immediate replacement for the recently treaded Darius Slay, and has the looks of a top 5 corner for years to come.
4. New York Giants: OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia
This is where I start getting crazy. I do believe the Giants are strongly considering trading down here, but if they stay, I am backing off the rumors of Isaiah Simmons here and going back to offensive tackle, but it’s not who you expect. Unlike my top tackles Jedrick Wills and Tristan Wirfs, Thomas has spent the last few years playing left tackle, and with no rookie minicamp, he is the most pro ready tackle in this class to step in and protect a quarterback’s blindside. This would be a shocker, but I can absolutely see Thomas being the pick right here.
5. Miami Dolphins: QB Justin Herbert, Oregon
I can’t see the Dolphins passing on a quarterback here. It comes down to Tua’s medicals. If the Dolphins believe he can stay healthy, he’s the pick. Unfortunately for Tua I don’t think the NFL trusts his medicals, not enough to warrant a top 5 selection. Herbert has the intangibles you look for in a quarterback and has had a great draft process, and he’s never had injury concerns. If they take Tua here, I won’t be surprised, and the Dolphins will have pulled off one of the best smokescreens I have ever seen.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
If Tua didn’t have the injury concerns, he would be the pick here once again. But with his health up in the air and Tyrod Taylor ready to play, the Chargers will pass on a quarterback here and take Wirfs, the best offensive linemen available. The additions of Wirfs, Trai Turner, and Bryan Bulaga will sure up the offensive line for Taylor, and maybe even Cam Newton, who is still a free agent and is looking for a team without a sure-fire starting quarterback in place.
7. Carolina Panthers: LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
Simmons is an athletic freak who’s speed will catch the eye of new Head Coach Matt Rhule and the Panthers, who need a replacement at linebacker for recently retired Luke Kuechly. Simmons is a wildcard as he can play so many different positions on defense, but he doesn’t have a true position, which could help or hurt his stock. The Panthers will happily have him fall to them at 7.
8. Arizona Cardinals: DT Derrick Brown, Auburn
I would go offensive line here, but the word out of Arizona is they love Derrick Brown and want to beef up their defensive line, and the move makes a lot of sense. Brown will dominate in the middle of the line and free up star defensive end ChandlerJones to have more shots at opposing quarterbacks.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
I still have no idea what Jacksonville will do, so with TuaTagovailoa still on the board at 9, this makes as much sense as any pick here. Gardner Minshew isn’t the long-term answer in Jacksonville, but he can play for now and allow the Jags not to rush Tua out onto the field early in his career. He could fall further, or he could be taken earlier via a trade. I really don’tknow with Tua, so for now, he becomes the new face of the Jaguars.
10. Cleveland Browns: OT Jedrick Wills, Alabama
There’s word out there that the Browns plan to trade down and take Boise State’s Ezra Cleveland later in the first round to sure up their offensive line. Well, that would be really really stupidwhen you have a chance at 10 to take Jedrick Wills, and I don’t think they do it. Wills will step in at left tackle and give them a great foundation with him and Jack Conklin on the ends. I still won’t be surprised if Cleveland trades down and pulls a total Cleveland and Clevelands up this draft. This is so simple!
11. New York Jets: WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
I have been going offensive tackle here for awhile now, but apparently the Jets love Ruggs, and with wide receiver being their other huge need, I think this pick will happen, and it makes a ton of sense. Giving Sam Darnold a Tyreek Hill-like weapon in Ruggs will be huge for his development.
12. Las Vegas Raiders: WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
Mike Maylock needs a big time receiver, and word is Lamb, a monster with the ball in his hands, is the top guy on the Raiders big board. He can step in day one and be a 1,000 yard receiver in Las Vegas.
13. San Francisco 49ers (from Colts): WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
Kyle Shanahan tried trading for Odell Beckham Jr before he was sent to Cleveland, so now, a year later, he gets a guy who has many times been compared to OBJ in Jeudy, the best route runner to come out of the college ranks in a long time.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville
The Bucs just traded for Rob Gronkowski… I’m still in shock. But even with Gronk, who has been a fantastic blocker throughout his career, the Bucs still need to address the tackle spot in order to protect Tom Brady. Becton is a massive athlete with a ceiling of Bryant McKinnie, so at 14, he is a no brainer for Tampa Bay.
15. Denver Broncos: CB CJ Henderson, Florida
John Elway was hoping one of the top 3 wide receivers would fall here, but with all of them off the board, getting the 2nd best cornerback in this class is a solid consolation prize. Henderson can step in day one in Vic Fangio’s defense and replace Chris Harris Jr, who sighed with the Chargers in free agency.
16. Atlanta Falcons: DL Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
The Falcons are rumored to be aggressively trying to trade up, possibly for a quarterback, or for CJ Henderson, but for this mock, they’ll stay at 16 and take Kinlaw, who when paired next to Grady Jarrett will give Atlanta a disruptive duo that will make life very difficult for the NFC South’s quarterbacks.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Edge K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU
This has got to be an ideal situation for Dallas, as they sit back at 17 and get the other elite pass rusher in this draft class in Chaisson, who along with DeMarcus Lawrence gives Dallas a solid pass rush going forward. Let’s not forget they get the versatility that Chaisson brings as well, as he has proven he can drop into pass coverage and stop the run very effectively.
18. Miami Dolphins (from Steelers): OT Josh Jones, Houston
This is a reach, but Miami needs to get offensive tackles in this draft because the ones currently on the roster are, well, pretty awful. Austin Jackson could be the pick here, but Jones seems like the safer pick to me. Once Miami has it’s quarterback, protecting him will be the next step.
19. Las Vegas Raiders (from Bears): LB Patrick Queen, LSU
Corner is a bigger need here, but with Queen on the board and Las Vegas having a need at weak side linebacker, adding an athlete like Queen is too good to pass up. If the Raiders come out of the 1st round with CeeDee Lamb and Patrick Queen, Maylock and Gruden should be given an A+ grade.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Rams): WR Justin Jefferson, LSU
Jacksonville has so many holes on the defensive side of the ball, but the chance to take a receiver with the skillset and talent of Jefferson to pair with DJ Chark is just too good to pass up here. Jefferson’s combination of size and speed will make him a deadly slot receiver to start his career, and he can develop into an outside threat as well. Whoever is playing quarterback in Jacksonville will have some solid weapons around them.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: WR Denzel Mims, Baylor
This may be a reach for Mims, but the Eagles desperately need to add receivers to their squad, and Mims has the size/speed combination that will fit their system perfectly. Linebacker is an option here, but as we have seen, the Eagles don’t take linebackers early.
22. Minnesota Vikings (from Bills): CB AJ Terrell, Clemson
Xavier Rhodes fell off a cliff last year, and was let go by the Vikings, so corner suddenly becomes a huge need. They may pick again at 25, but at 22 they will want to make sure they take the best available cornerback, and that’s AJ Terrell, who has great length and the speed to be a talented NFL starter.
23. New England Patriots: LB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma
With the losses of Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts, and Jamie Collins to free agency, linebacker is a top need for New England heading into the draft. Murray is a tackling machine, a freak athlete, and was a multi-year captain at Oklahoma, so he fits what Bill Belichick looks for. He can step in next to Dont’aHightower, and eventually take over for him.
24. New Orleans Saints: CB Kristian Fulton, LSU
The Saints could look quarterback of the future here, but with their Superbowl window still open, addressing a current need is more important. Fulton is being praised around the league for playing through injuries this past season as he helped lead LSU to a championship, and he will fit right into the Saints secondary to provide relief opposite Marshon Lattimore.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Edge Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State
Everson Griffin is gone, so adding a high upside pass rusher to put on the opposite end of Danielle Hunter is a smart move for the Vikings. Wide receiver could be in play here, but with the depth at the position, Minnesota can afford to wait and address their defense first.
26. Miami Dolphins (from Texans): S Xavier McKinney, Alabama
I thought about running back here, but safety is a serious need for Miami and Brian Flores will want to use one of his picks on defense. McKinney is a plug and play safety who can do everything on the field. This is a great pick and value for the Dolphins.
27. Seattle Seahawks: DL AJ Epenesa, Iowa
Whether or not Jadeveon Clowney comes back, pass rush is a big need for Seattle, and Epenesa, a larger pass rusher who can play inside and out, is a great scheme fit here.
28. Baltimore Ravens: OL Cesar Ruiz, Michigan
Ruiz, the top interior linemen in this class, is an absolute steal here for the Ravens, who will be looking to find a replacement for future hall of famer Marshall Yanda. Ruiz can play guard and center and will keep the Ravens run game at the top of the NFL.
29. Tennessee Titans: OT Isaiah Wilson, Georgia
Losing Jack Conklin to free agency is a blow for the Titans, but replacing him with Wilson, a monster right tackle from Georgia, softens the blow. While Wilson needs to improve drastically as a pass blocker, he is an animal in the run game and will have no problem clearing running lanes for Derrick Henry.
30. Green Bay Packers: WR Tee Higgins, Clemson
Higgins stock has been taking a hit lately, but you know what, this guy balled out at Clemson, the Packers need weapons for Aaron Rodgers, and the NFL may be higher on this guy than the media. Higgins height will give Aaron Rodgers a go up and get it receiver to compliment Davante Adams, and a WR2 he desperately needs.
31. San Francisco 49ers: CB Jeff Gladney, TCU
After getting a star wide receiver at 13, San Fran will turn its attention to the defensive backfield, where Richard Sherman is getting older, and the corner position could use an upgrade. Gladney has good speed and is as physical as they come at the line of scrimmage and will give them an upgrade at CB2.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: CB Jaylon Johnson, Utah
Most of KC’s starters are returning next season, but the defensive backfield is extremely thin. Bashaud Breeland is coming back on a 1-year deal, so adding Johnson here makes so much sense. A speedy corner with great quickness and ball skills, Johnson is an instant upgrade at corner.
Tua Tagovailoa will fall out of the top 6, but not the top 10
With so much up in the air regarding Tua Tagovailoa’s long term health, I think the Dolphins and the Chargers will pass on him at 5 and 6, despite what most mock drafts are saying. Miami will take Herbert, and Los Angeles will address their need at left tackle. Despite the concerns with his medicals, some team will still want to grab him, and with rumors that Carolina and Arizona are open to trading out of the top 10, teams like the Falcons, Raiders, or Jaguars could look to move up for the Alabama star.
The Colts will trade back into the 1st round to select Jordan Love
Indianapolis has no quarterbacks under contract for the 2021 season as of now, so quarterback is a huge need despite the recently signed Philip Rivers. San Francisco and Kansas City own the last two picks in the first round and are both low on draft capital. The Colts would be wise to move up from 34 to 31 or 32 to select Utah State’s Love and let him learn behind Rivers for a season.
No running backs in the 1st round
The league is continuing to see a trend of running backs only being good for one contract, and with no clear cut RB1 in this class (it’s a toss up between Jonathan Taylor and D’AndreSwift), I don’t see a team reaching in round 1. What I can expect is 4-5 being selected in round 2.
Final Top 10 Player Rankings
(*Including my top 20 wide receivers, because this class is so historically deep.)
1. Joe Burrow, LSU
2. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
3. Justin Herbert, Oregon
4. Jordan Love, Utah State
5. Jacob Eason, Washington
6. Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
7. Jake Fromm, Georgia
8. Nate Stanley, Iowa
9. James Morgan, FIU
10. Cole McDonald, Hawaii
1. Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
2. D’Andre Swift, Georgia
3. J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State
4. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU
5. Cam Akers, Florida State
6. Zach Moss, Utah
7. AJ Dillon, Boston College
8. Antonio Gibson, Memphis
9. Eno Benjamin, Arizona State
10. Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt
1. Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
2. Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
3. CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
4. Justin Jefferson, LSU
5. Tee Higgins, Clemson
6. Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
7. Denzel Mims, Baylor
8. Laviska Shenault Jr, Colorado
9. Chase Claypool, Notre Dame
10. Michael Pittman Jr, USC
11. K.J. Hamler, Penn State
12. Jalen Reagor, TCU
13. Devin Duvernay, Texas
14. Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan
15. Lynn Bowden Jr, Kentucky
16. Van Jefferson, Florida
17. KJ Hill, Ohio State
18. Bryan Edwards, South Carolina
19. Collin Johnson, Texas
20. James Proche, SMU
1. Cole Kmet, Notre Dame
2. Hunter Bryant, Washington
3. Adam Trautman, Dayton
4. Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri
5. Brycen Hopkins, Purdue
6. Harrison Bryant, Florida Atlantic
7. Devin Asiasi, UCLA
8. Thaddeus Moss, LSU
9. Colby Parkinson, Stanford
10. Jared Pinkney, Vanderbilt
1. Jedrick Wills, Alabama
2. Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
3. Andrew Thomas, Georgia
4. Mekhi Becton, Louisville
5. Austin Jackson, USC
6. Josh Jones, Houston
7. Isaiah Wilson, Georgia
8. Saahdiq Charles, LSU
9. Lucas Niang, TCU
10. Ezra Cleveland, Boise State
Interior Offensive Linemen
1. Cesar Ruiz, Michigan
2. Robert Hunt, Louisiana-Lafayette
3. Lloyd Cushenberry III, LSU
4. John Simpson, Clemson
5. Matt Hennessey, Temple
6. Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin
7. Jonah Jackson, Ohio State
8. Nick Harris, Washington
9. Netane Muti, Fresno State
10. Ben Bredeson, Michigan
1. Derrick Brown, Auburn
2. Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
3. AJ Epenesa, Iowa
4. Marlon Davidson, Auburn
5. Ross Blacklock, TCU
6. Raekwon Davis, Alabama
7. Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M
8. Neville Gallimore, Oklahoma
9. Jordan Elliot, Missouri
10. Leki Fotu, Utah
1. Chase Young, Ohio State
2. K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU
3. Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State
4. Bradlee Anae, Utah
5. Joshua Uche, Michigan
6. Kenny Willekes, Michigan State
7. Terrell Lewis, Alabama
8. Julian Okwara, Notre Dame
9. Curtis Weaver, Boise State
10. Alton Robinson, Syracuse
1. Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
2. Patrick Queen, LSU
3. Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma
4. Zach Baun, Wisconsin
5. Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech
6. Malik Harrison, Ohio State
7. Jacob Phillips, LSU
8. Akeem Davis-Gaither, Appalachian State
9. Willie Gay Jr, Mississippi State
10. Troy Dye, Oregon
1. Jeff Okudah, Ohio State
2. CJ Henderson, Florida
3. AJ Terrell, Clemson
4. Jeff Gladney, TCU
5. Kristian Fulton, LSU
6. Jaylon Johnson, Utah
7. Trevon Diggs, Alabama
8. Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn
9. Cameron Dantzler, Mississippi State
10. Darnay Holmes, UCLA
1. Antoine Winfield Jr, Minnesota
2. Xavier McKinney, Alabama
3. Grant Delpit, LSU
4. Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne
5. Jeremy Chinn, Southern Illinois
6. Ashtyn Davis, California
7. Terrell Burgess, Utah
8. Kenny Robinson, XFL/West Virginia
9. Brandon Jones, Texas
10. Geno Stone, Iowa
Teams Likely to Trade Down
Detroit Lions (3)
Carolina Panthers (7)
Arizona Cardinals (8)
Cleveland Browns (10)
San Francisco 49ers (13, 31)
Kansas City Chiefs (32)
Dallas Cowboys (17)
Teams Likely to Trade Up
Rumored Targets: QB Tua Tagovailoa, QB Justin Herbert
Rumored Targets: WR Jerry Jeudy
Rumored Targets: CB CJ Henderson, or a quarterback
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Rumored Targets: Offensive tackles
New York Jets
Rumored Targets: WR Henry Ruggs III, Offensive tackles
Rumored Targets: WR Henry Ruggs III, WR Jerry Jeudy, WR Justin Jefferson