Sam Farmer’s NFL mock draft 2.0: Predicting QB picks as easy as one, two, three

Alabama's Mac Jones
Alabama’s Mac Jones is one of the talented quarterbacks predicted to be taken at the top of the NFL draft.
(Brynn Anderson / Associated Press)

Good things come in threes.

In the case of The Times’ mock draft 2.0, that means quarterbacks going 1-2-3 for the first time since 1999 when the first three selections were Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb and Akili Smith.

It also means three Alabama players chosen among the top 10, and a total of six in the first round.

And it projects three running backs going in the opening round, something that has happened just twice in the last 10 years, as teams increasingly have stopped using first-round picks on that position.

A look at one way this year’s first round could unfold:

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence looks for a receiver.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence looks for a receiver during the first half of the ACC championship game against Notre Dame on Dec. 19, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C.
(Brian Blanco / Associated Press)

  1. Jacksonville: QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson — Urban Meyer launches his NFL coaching career with a quarterback who passed for 90 touchdowns with 17 interceptions in three college seasons.
  2. New York Jets: QB Zach Wilson, Brigham Young — Jets don’t seem concerned about injury to Wilson’s throwing shoulder that required surgery.
  3. San Francisco: QB Mac Jones, Alabama — Jones had only one full season as a starter but passed for 41 touchdowns and 4,500 yards, with just four interceptions.
  4. Atlanta: TE Kyle Pitts, Florida — Never has a tight end been selected this early, but Pitts is a remarkable talent athletic enough to line up at receiver.
  5. Cincinnati: OT Penei Sewell, Oregon — The Bengals need to beef up their protection of Joe Burrow, so they take the best tackle off the board.
  6. Miami: WR Ja’Marr Chase, Louisiana State — If Cincinnati doesn’t reunite Chase and Burrow, and if Pitts is gone, the Dolphins take a guy who runs a 4.38-second 40-yard dash and can play physical.
    Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle carries the ball against Auburn.
    Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle carries the ball against Auburn on Nov. 30, 2019 in Auburn, Ala.
    (Butch Dill / Associated Press)
  7. Detroit: WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama — Detroit has been hit or miss with first-round receivers, but the Lions need to stock the shelves for Jared Goff … or whoever’s at quarterback.
  8. Carolina: OT Rashawn Slater, Northwestern — Now that they have acquired Sam Darnold, the Panthers have to work on keeping him upright.
  9. Denver: LB Micah Parsons, Penn State — The Broncos could go quarterback here — keep an eye on Trey Lance — but they also could use an eventual quarterback of their defense.
  10. Dallas: CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama — Surtain could step in as the first-day starter opposite former Alabama teammate Trevon Diggs.

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  11. New York Giants: Edge Gregory Rousseau, Miami — A former high school receiver, the 6-foot-5 Rousseau would bring heat off the edge to match the Giants’ interior pressure.
  12. Philadelphia: WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama — The Eagles traded back, an indication they’re not dying to replace Jalen Hurts. But they need capable targets.
  13. Chargers: CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina — The son of former New Orleans Saints star Joe Horn could step in for Casey Hayward, released by the Chargers in March.
    USC guard Alijah Vera-Tucker adjusts his helmet.
    USC guard Alijah Vera-Tucker adjusts his helmet during a game at the Rose Bowl on Nov. 17, 2018 in Pasadena.
    (Katherine Lotze / Getty Images)
  14. Minnesota: OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC — Vikings need to turn their attention to a porous and constantly shifting offensive line.
  15. New England: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State — The Patriots haven’t picked this early since 2008, and though Bill Belichick often throws curveballs, quarterback is a pressing need.
  16. Arizona: CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech — Patrick Peterson is in Minnesota now. Farley could wind up being the best corner in this draft class.
  17. Las Vegas: S Trevon Moehrig, Texas Christian — The Raiders could pair Moehrig with Johnathan Abram, a first-rounder in 2019, as free-agent signing Jeff Heath is a short-term solution.
  18. Miami: OT Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech — The Dolphins got a receiving weapon with their first pick in this mock, and now some protection for Tua Tagovailoa.
  19. Washington: OLB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame — Washington could use a versatile three-down linebackerand would move him all over the defense.
    Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields throws a pass against Indiana.
    Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields throws a pass against Indiana during the first half on Nov. 21, 2020 in Columbus, Ohio.
    (Jay LaPrete / Associated Press)
  20. Chicago: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State — Maybe somebody falls in love with Fields and takes him earlier, but Bears coach Matt Nagy wasn’t about to miss his workout.
  21. Indianapolis: Edge Kwity Paye, Michigan — Even if the Colts re-sign Justin Houston, who’s on the wrong side of 30, they need to improve their edge pressure.
  22. Tennessee: DT Christian Barmore, Alabama — The Titans need help on the outside, but pairing Barmore with Jeffery Simmons would make for an imposing interior.
    Clemson's Travis Etienne fends off Georgia Tech's Kaleb Oliver.
    Clemson’s Travis Etienne fends off Georgia Tech’s Kaleb Oliver on Aug. 29, 2019 in Clemson, S.C.
    (Richard Shiro / Associated Press)
  23. New York Jets: RB Travis Etienne, Clemson — Establishing the run will be a big part of new coordinator Mike LaFleur’s offense, and Etienne is versatile enough to create problems for opponents.
  24. Pittsburgh: RB Najee Harris, Alabama — The Steelers let James Conner leave in free agency, so they figure to take a running back early, and Harris is a good fit.
  25. Jacksonville: OT Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State — The Jaguars grabbed a quarterback with the first pick and now need to button down the edge protection.
  26. Cleveland: CB Asante Samuel Jr., Florida State — Even if Greedy Williams rebounds from his shoulder injury, the Browns still must address their secondary rebuild.
  27. Baltimore: Edge Jaelen Phillips, Miami — With Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue elsewhere, the Ravens need to replace some of that pass rush. Phillips could go earlier.

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  28. New Orleans: Edge Azeez Ojulari, Georgia — The Saints need help in the secondary as well, but turning up the heat on the front end can make defensive backs look a lot better.
  29. Green Bay: WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota — Who better to catch passes in the cold than Bateman, an outstanding route runner and a gift for Aaron Rodgers.
  30. Buffalo: LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa — Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison are approaching their mid-30s, and the Bills need a youth infusion on the edges.
  31. Kansas City: OT Jalen Mayfield, Michigan — The Chiefs allowed right tackle Mitchell Schwartz walk in free agency. His are big cleats to fill. Mayfield had that nailed down for Michigan.
  32. Tampa Bay: RB Javonte Williams, North Carolina — The Buccaneers are drafting for depth, and they won’t have Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette forever.