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Way Too Early 2021 Mock Draft
Published at 12/16/2020 10:52:21 PM
Don't take it too seriously as a lot of this is pure guesswork on my part. I put three trades into this mock.
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Unless 'Sunshine' says he won't play for the Jets, it's hard to reasonably put anyone else in this spot. Ever since lighting up the college football world en route to leading Clemson to the 2019 national title, Lawrence has been all but destined to be the #1 pick in this draft.
QB2 coming into the season was Justin Fields. Save for some struggles against Indiana, Fields hasn't done anything to damage his high standing in this draft class. There are other QBs (Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, maybe Mac Jones) who have closed the gap some, but for now, I'll still have Fields being both the #2 QB off the board and the #2 pick in this draft. Jacksonville has figured out that Gardner Minshew isn't the long-term answer at QB.
Rookie QB and 2020 #1 overall pick Joe Burrow was having a very nice season until a torn ACL and MCL against Washington ended it. If the Bengals maintain this high a draft spot, drafting Oregon's Penei Sewell would make a lot of sense. He and Jonah Williams would be the bookend tackles for Cincinnati who could make sure Burrow doesn't become the next Andrew Luck.
49ers get: Pick 4 and a 2021 6th round pick
Chargers get: Pick 12, 2021 4th and 5th round picks and 2022 1st and 3rd round pick
Once upon a time, the 49ers had a BYU QB named Steve Young who led them to a Super Bowl title and eventually made the Hall of Fame. Do the Niners still believe in Jimmy Garoppolo? If not, maybe they'd look to draft a QB in this class, and they've been scouting these guys. Young himself is a fan of Zach Wilson, who has seen his stock rise more than any QB in this class. This is a steep price to pay, with four picks going back LA's way (including San Francisco's first rounder in 2022) as well as a swap of third day picks.
There are some who aren't this high on Mac Jones, but others believe NFL teams like him quite a bit more than the media. He's been fantastic since stepping in for Tua Tagovailoa at the mid-way point of last season after Tua suffered a serious injury. With Matt Ryan's level of play falling off and Atlanta set to have a new regime after constant disappointment post-Super Bowl collapse, they could decide to rebuild and find Ryan's successor.
Dolphins get: Pick 6
Panthers get: Pick 8 and a 2021 4th round pick
Prior to opting out of the 2020 season, Micah Parsons was considered a likely top 10 prospect. I still have him going that high as he's your prototypical modern day linebacker prospect. Miami trades away its own 4th round pick to help out a weak linebacking core, feeling they may need to jump ahead of Dallas to nab Parsons.
Dallas is in a very interesting spot. They have needs all over the defense, all over the offensive line with injuries ravaging it and could even shock the world and take a QB here if they wanted to go with a guy on a rookie deal instead of giving Dak Prescott a giant deal. I'm not sure Jerry Jones is interesting in Door #3 (QB) here, and with Penei Sewell off the board, going defense would make more sense. So now it comes down to whether we want to go D-Line or secondary. I'll go Christian Barmore, who is becoming a dominating force up front for Alabama.
Two straight Alabama defenders go off the board. While a QB (Trey Lance) here is tempting, getting more secondary help should be a priority for the Panthers as well. The son of the former Miami Dolphins cornerback of the same name, Patrick Jr. is sort of in the mold of last year's #3 overall pick in Jeff Okudah. He may not run the fastest, but he's outstanding in coverage and has excellent size.
Philadelphia decided to pass on one LSU receiver in the 2020 draft in Justin Jefferson. Right now, the Eagles wish they hadn't. They decide not to do that two years in a row, and select Ja'Marr Chase here. He's more naturally gifted than Jefferson and even out-shined him on LSU's national title team last season. Chase has good (though not great) size and is just a big play waiting to happen. Whether the Eagles stick with Jalen Hurts or eventually turn back to Carson Wentz, they need a #1 target like this.
Dave Gettleman is a GM who doesn't care too much about perceived value when it comes to draft choices, he's just going to select who he feels is the best player on the board regardless of what outsiders think. Tight ends in the top 10 is not a regular occurrence, but when NFL teams feel its warranted, they will go this high (see T.J. Hockenson, Vernon Davis, Eric Ebron as recent examples). Florida's Kyle Pitts has been outstanding the last two seasons, and has been even more unstoppable as a junior. He's also been studying the likes of Travis Kelce and George Kittle to try improving as a blocker and to add more to his offensive bag of tricks.
Like the Falcons decided with Matt Ryan, perhaps the Lions would think about a successor for Matthew Stafford in this spot. If not, the Lions could look towards bolstering their defense some more. They stay in-state with Kwity Paye, the Michigan product who has freakish athletic traits and huge potential.
Cornerback was a strong consideration here for the Chargers, but I decided they need a long-term left tackle to protect Justin Herbert, who is looking like an excellent investment by the organization thus far. Alijah Vera-Tucker has done an excellent job at left tackle this season for USC, protecting the blind side of Kedon Slovis, who could be a first round pick in the 2022 Draft if he continues to perform at a high level for the Trojans.
What was once the 'No Fly Zone' in Denver has turned into the 'Bombs Away Zone' for opposing QBs. Caleb Farley is a long, tall cornerback who thrives in press coverage. He'd be a nice fit in Vic Fangio's defense. It'll be interesting to see where guys like Farley, Chase and others who opted out of the 2020 season get drafted.
Surprised? Yes, the Vikings could decide to try surrounding Kirk Cousins with more protection up front or add to their defense. But instead, they pull a page out of the Green Bay Packers 2020 draft playbook and plan for the future by taking Trey Lance. Owing so much money to Cousins in 2021 and having too much dead cap on his remaining deal, it's likely he'll still be their QB next year. However, they could choose to move on from him in 2022 when he's only got 10 million dollars worth of dead cap on his deal, as opposed to 41 million dollars left of dead cap remaining going into next season. Lance has loads of talent, but a redshirt year could do him a lot of good. A situation like Minnesota where Dalvin Cook is running wild and Justin Jefferson is lighting it up as a rookie could be a great spot for him once the job is his.
Tough call for me here between Smith and Rashawn Slater, the local product from Northwestern who would be a boon to a porous offensive line. Slater might be a better fit inside, where the Bears aren't in terrible shape. Chicago really has nobody opposing secondaries are afraid of other than Allen Robinson, though, and he's a free agent after the season. DeVonta Smith could stand to add a bit more muscle, but he's stood out production wise on a loaded Alabama offense the last two years. He's very good at creating separation and can go up and get it.
Wide receiver is a definite possibility here as the Patriots have really been lacking at the position the last couple of years. Jaylen Waddle, Alabama's speed demon, is a definite possibility here. Instead, let's give Bill Belichick a pass rusher with tremendous athletic ability and a motor that never stops. With both New England and Chicago before them, QBs are possibilities for them, but I don't know if either would pull the trigger on Kyle Trask here.