Sam Farmer’s NFL mock draft 3.0: Who goes after Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson?
If this year’s NFL draft were a football team, it would start its season with a bye week.
But that’s when the drama starts.
San Francisco traded up to the No. 3 spot with a quarterback in mind, but there’s plenty of debate regarding which player that should be — Alabama’s Mac Jones, Ohio State’s Justin Fields or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance.
After a remote experience last year, the 2021 NFL draft in Cleveland is a return to normal, or close to it. Here’s how to watch and everything else you need to know.
Will a quarterback-needy team such as New England or Washington push its way to the top of the draft to get one? (Denver addressed that Wednesday by trading for Carolina’s Teddy Bridgewater.) Will some of the top 10 teams look to bail out, trading back for more picks in this class that’s solid but not overly rich at any particular position?
A look at one way the opening round could unfold:
1. Jacksonville: QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson — Jaguars begin the Urban Meyer era with a quarterback who completed 66.6% of his passes in 36 starts, five of them postseason games.
Ahead of the 2021 NFL draft where he’s projected to be the No.1 overall pick, Trevor Lawrence signs a multi-year deal with Adidas.
2. New York Jets: QB Zach Wilson, Brigham Young — Seems like an endless loop for the Jets, who move on to the next answer at quarterback. Maybe this will be the one.
3. San Francisco: QB Mac Jones, Alabama — Intrigue starts here. Jones doesn’t excite fans as much as Justin Fields. Outside possibility this could be Trey Lance. One of those three could tumble.
4. Atlanta: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State — Only rub for the Falcons taking a quarterback here is they still have to get out from under Matt Ryan’s contract. That’s no easy task. Maybe someone will trade up to this spot for Fields.
5. Cincinnati: WR Ja’Marr Chase, Louisiana State — Bengals need a tackle to better protect the rebuilt Joe Burrow but instead give their second-year QB a gift: one of his favorite targets from college.
6. Miami: T Penei Sewell, Oregon — It will take some serious willpower to pass on Kyle Pitts, but Sewell makes a compelling case. Plays left tackle with the aggressiveness of a defensive lineman.
7. Detroit: TE Kyle Pitts, Florida — Yes, it was only a couple of years ago when the Lions took tight end T.J. Hockenson with the eighth pick, but can they really let an offensive phenom such as Pitts slide?
8. Carolina: CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama — Cornerback is an area of need and new Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer has a knack for finding good ones, as he did in Seattle. Surtain is the best in this class.
9. Denver: CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina — In a division with Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and the often overlooked Derek Carr, it’s baptism by fire for corners. Horn is ready.
10. Dallas: WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama — Two-for-one for the Cowboys: They bolster their passing game right away, and they deny the Philadelphia Eagles a player they covet.
11. New York Giants: LB Micah Parsons, Penn State — The Giants need a receiver and only one is off the board, but instead they zero in on a versatile defensive standout who could be a quarterback on that side of the ball.
12. Philadelphia: WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama — The Eagles need receivers and corners. Don’t rule out them taking a tackle here, and the jury’s still out on quarterback Jalen Hurts.
13. Chargers: T Rashawn Slater, Northwestern — If Chargers can stay where they are and land Slater, they’ll have another bountiful first round — and they’ve had their share.
The Chargers have nine draft picks, including the 13th in Round 1, which means general manager Tom Telesco is going to have a busy three days on the job.
14. Minnesota: T Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech — The Vikings need a replacement for Riley Reiff at left tackle. From the first game of his freshman year, Darrisaw has locked down that spot.
15. New England: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State — Bill Belichick has never taken a quarterback in the first round, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and if Lance slips …
16. Arizona: CB Greg Newsome II, Northwestern — A lot of teams love Newsome. The Patrick Peterson-less Cardinals badly need help at corner, and this physical Northwestern stalwart fits Vance Joseph’s scheme.
17. Las Vegas: G Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC — More a meat-and-potatoes pick than a flashy Vegas Raiders pick, but Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden are bolstering the interior of this offensive line.
18. Miami: OLB Zaven Collins, Tulsa — The disruptive Collins is a favorite of a lot of teams, and the Dolphins addressed their need for an offensive tackle with their first pick.
Rams coach Sean McVay and GM Les Snead talked about the NFL draft, but had to do so via videoconference because they were exposed to someone who has COVID-19.
19. Washington: LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame — Not a ton of experience, he played just two games in his first two years, but Owusu-Koramoah is a linebacker-safety hybrid who can line up all over and make an impact.
20. Chicago: T Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State — Bad news for the Bears: They have a lot of needs. Good news: They can go a variety of directions. Tackle would help them right away.
21. Indianapolis: Edge Azeez Ojulari, Georgia — Smart, rugged, dependable, Ojulari was the first freshman captain on Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs. Some people see a Robert Mathis quality to him, and that’s saying a lot.
22. Tennessee: WR Kadarius Toney, Florida — Toney is a dynamic playmaker who can return kicks. Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore is a possibility here too.
23. New York Jets: Edge Kwity Paye, Michigan — If Paye drops this far, the Jets would run their draft card to the podium. Could also be edge rushers Ojulari or Gregory Rousseau.
24. Pittsburgh: RB Najee Harris, Alabama — Harris has Le’Veon Bell qualities and fits what the Steelers do, but Pittsburgh also has to shore up its offensive line.
25. Jacksonville: S Trevon Moehrig, Texas Christian — The Jaguars need defensive help all over, front and back ends, so this could just as easily be a pass rusher such as an Ojulari.
26. Cleveland: OLB Jamin Davis, Kentucky — Lots of teams have a strong interest in Davis. Browns could roll the dice on Caleb Farley here, although that Virginia Tech corner is coming off back surgery.
27. Baltimore: Edge Jaelan Phillips, Miami — Gone are Baltimore’s top two pass rushers from last season, Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue. Phillips could make an impact right away.
Beneath its polished exterior, the NFL draft can often be a confusing time for team executives and players. Here are some amusing stories from past drafts.
28. New Orleans: Edge Joe Tryon, Washington — The Saints are thinking defense. With the top corners and linebackers off the board, they look to a defensive end with a lot of potential.
29. Green Bay: CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech — If Davis is still available, maybe the Packers look for a fixture in the middle of their defense. But they need help in the secondary, too, and Farley fits.
30. Buffalo: Edge Gregory Rousseau, Miami — Rousseau, with his super-quick first step, can learn behind Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison. Penn State’s Jayson Oweh is a possibility here but he’s incredibly raw.
31. Baltimore: T Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame — Having traded Orlando Brown Jr. to Kansas City, the Ravens need a right tackle. There’s a high likelihood they will address that need with one of their two first-round picks.
32. Tampa Bay: RB Travis Etienne, Clemson — The Buccaneers get all their starters back, but they would love the explosion Etienne brings. Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette aren’t going to be there forever. If Joe Tryon is still around, they might just take him.
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